New Heading #4 Fall Training

Story continued from New Heading #1, #2, & #3


Dr. Ibsens group of starters (K9 athletes in his 2012 Race to the Sky pool) were a collection of old hand’s he’d purchased from Harm & I in previous years, as well as some young dogs he’d bred up from that same stock–by and large a very competent collection of dogs, though BADLY in need of some real training.

I started with a collection of 33 possible candidates for the 12 available slots on the eventual race team, and started the job of sorting them out by 4-wheeler training in early September 2011.

While I knew a lot of the older dogs, at least from years past, the young dogs were a complete mystery to me. I divided them all into three separate squads, making sure each squad had a good mix of adults and “pups” and put them to work.

Training on Dr. ibsen’s trails in the hills above Helena was to prove a real challenge for me: when I trained out of Lincoln in previous years, I was always on a trail system I was completely familiar with. Prior to training any given year (from Lincoln) I’d take a quad and painstakingly map all of the old trails, just to make sure there were no new gates/fences up or downed trees across the trail at handlebar level to give me a nasty surprise when I came along, probably in the dark, with a big 18 dog powerhouse.

This was not the case on the new trail system–due to some negative attitudes about the dogs from various neighbors and some extremely restrictive land use rules on the BLM lands (all of Mark’s cart training trails were on BLM lands) there was a strict policy of NO MOTORIZED vehicles allowed on these trails. This meant that I was going to have to learn the trail completely from scratch, with a quad set up to run “non-motorized” (in mushing parlance, this usually means without a sparkplug).

Bright and early on my first morning of official training, I left Mark’s yard with a big, overpowered team  (17 screaming dogs capable of pulling the quad upside down if they wanted to) on a 4-wheeler sans working motor. We made it around the first series of sharp turns, hit BLM land…and hit a steel gate that had not been there the day before (but I HAD heard some banging and clanging coming from the woods, so now I knew what THAT was all about!). It was at this point that I found out that not only was Mark’s 4-wheeler sans working motor, it was also sans working brakes…

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow…





5 Responses to “New Heading #4 Fall Training”

  1. Oh no!!! You can’t just leave me hanging! You had me hooked and I was all excited to find out what happened next!! Love your writing and I am so thrilled you are back. Big hugs to you all. A dedicated fan!! 🙂 Tish

    • Heh heh! Sorry Miss Tish, I have to ration all of my stuff! Thank you so much for your kind praise…and remember, you’re much more than a “dedicated fan” to the Barron family 🙂

  2. Glad your back, Jason! Memories here of handling forya at the Willow Re-Start in 2010. You had me steady your leader till you were ready to head for the chute 🙂

  3. Hi Jason and Harmony,

    I always enjoy your adventure writing.

    Savage, Orbis and Unum are doing well, and were with me creating some of life’s greatest memories. While Savage still loves to run a few miles in lead, he also cherishes free-running and overseeing his other kennel mates to let me know whenever something might be awry. Orbis and Unum continue to be the bestest of brothers, most often running together in swing though Orbis is great in lead. We also acquired Sedgewick last year after his owner could no longer keep him. He is so funny – when I give the team a comman, he reiterates with a yip! I still miss Mugatu – he was among the best ever. Your dogs are the most loving and capable I’ve ever had the honor to run with. Thanks.


    no longer keep him. no longer keep him. Mugatu

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