Dry Land Mushing
Dryland racing is basically racing on land instead of snow and is the most widely carried out form of racing in New Zealand due to our climate. Dryland racing is carried out on Rigs and Scooters each having separate classes to race in.
A rig is basically a 3 wheeled trike which has a suitable hook for attaching the gangline to and a platform large enough for a dog to be carried on in the case of it not being able to run, most rigs are home made and come in all shapes and sizes.
A scooter is similar to that of an oversized childs scooter, Kickbike's are a good example of the scooter sizes. These can be purchased from kickbike or can be home made, some mushers may be selling their scooters so it pays to ask around sometimes.
The classes available to mushers depend on the race giving organisation (RGO) but generally are:
2,3,4,6 dog rig (minimum distance 5km)
1,2,3 Dog freight (minimum distance 5km except 1 dog freight which is 3km)
1 and 2 dog scooter (minimum distance 3km)
The most popular for beginners is 1 dog scooter and is a good way of getting a taste of the sport if you only have one dog.
Ridge Runners have training days and these are a good time to give dryland racing a go and to also ask mushers questions on how to get started in the sport.
Teams of 2 to 16 (and more) dogs in front of a sled. The sled behaves very different to a rig or scooter - much less directional control, the dogs truly determine where you go. Speed is controlled by a drag mat, a snowbrake and snowhooks.
In New Zealand there are only very few opportunities for snow races, the best known one is the Wanaka Dog Sled Festival (http://snow.co.nz/events/wanaka-dog-sled-festival).
There, teams between 1 and 8 dogs compete on two different trail lengths against each other.
Bikejoring and Skijoring
Similar to the dog scooter, except you use a bicycle or ski.
Bikejoring is great fun to get started into the sport and to explorer your local trails. More flexible than rigs or scooters and you can go on much more technical terrain.
For Skijoring, you should be able to ski and have trust in your dog. Similar to sled racing, there is less control over dog and direction than with dryland mushing. A Facebook page ("Ski Dogs New Zealand") is dedicated to promote skijoring, so have a look there.
Number of dogs can vary, most commonly one or two dogs are seen, although three dogs are managable. Four dogs is for crazy people or those with a good health insurane.
In New Zealand, both Bikejoring and Skijoring are up and coming varieties with strong driving people behind.
The most basic form of man-dog interaction, but also the physically most demanding.
All you need are some running shoes and a long leash - and be prepared to run faster than you ever wanted.
Probably one fo the best ways to get fit and have fun with yor dog, so give it a try. You won't be disappointed :-)