Dryland mushing, sleddog with karts
Driving a team of sleddogs on non-snowy terrain
When one speaks of sleddog, one is commonly led to think of the discipline in which Nordic dogs pull sleds on snow. Few people know that, in addition to winter sleddog, there is also a ‘summer’ version: dryland mushing, i.e. sleddog on karts.
Winter sleddog and summer sleddog
Sleddog is a recognised sport and consists of sledding with sleddogs, usually Nordic dogs (Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed and Greenlandic are the officially recognised ones: find out more about huskies). Depending on the type of terrain on which it takes place, there are two different categories of sleddogs:
- sleddog on snow, which is the more traditional one since this discipline descends from the ancient custom of the indigenous peoples of Alaska and Greenland to use sleddogs as a means of transport to communicate and transport goods (or medicines, as in the story of Balto) in extreme weather conditions;
- sleddog on land, which takes place on non-snowy terrain and involves dogs pulling various wheeled vehicles such as karts, bicycles, scooters or trolleys.
There is also a circuit of national and international events and competitions for dryland sleddog. The IFSS (International Federation of Sleddog Sports), organises the annual World Championships and World Masters Dryland: those of 2023 will be held from 20 to 26 November on Spanish soil in Ólvega, not far from Zaragoza, on two different courses of 5.9 km and 4 km, with specific races for the different categories competing. Later in the year, on the other hand, there is the World Cup, a sleddog competition also organised by the IFSS, which takes place over several stages around the world, on sleds and karts.
Where to go sleddog on land in Italy
Sleddog without snow is only possible in a few locations throughout Italy. One of these is Valtellina, and more precisely Arnoga in Valdidentro, between Bormio and Livigno, where the Husky Village is located. This facility, one of the largest and most welcoming for the hospitality and training of sled dogs (it even houses more than 70 Alaskan Huskies), obviously offers the possibility of husky sled rides in the snow during the winter and until late spring thanks to the abundant snow the area enjoys, but it also offers the dryland sleddog experience during the rest of the year.
When the snow is not yet there or has already melted, the aspiring mushers – the drivers of the sleds, or in this case karts, pulled by dogs – climb aboard special karts equipped with four wheels and connected to a team of sleddogs, which, just like in winter sledding, race along a 5 km track in the forests of the upper Valtellina.
This is a rather wide dirt track, ideal for travelling in complete safety, which coincides with the first section of the Arnoga-Cancano Decauville near Bormio and makes it possible to complete a loop route starting and finishing at the Husky Village, passing through breathtaking natural scenery.
The differences between driving the kart and sledding with dogs (and therefore between winter sleddog and dryland sleddog) are minimal: you travel standing up (or sitting in the special seats on the sleds or karts guided by the instructors, if you are under 13 years of age or prefer to experience it this way) and you are called upon to actively drive your vehicle by giving the huskies a few simple voice commands to regulate their pace. The husky experience at the Husky Village also includes two moments particularly appreciated by the participants at the end of the excursion with the dogs: a few minutes in the company of the animals, during which it is possible to pet and cuddle the huskies to discover their sociable nature, and the delivery of the photo shoot dedicated to each musher, taken by a professional photographer and included in the experience.
No need to wait for the snow to experience the thrills of sleddog in Valtellina: book your adventure at Husky Village now!