Dog sledding for beginners: How to be a musher for a day!
Other Worlds Sweden

Dog sledding for beginners: How to be a musher for a day!

The thing that can really mark your Arctic adventure is a ride on the dog-pulled sled. In our case we weren’t just silent observers. We were nothing less than MUSHERS!

 

Since there are quite a number of kennels around these Arctic places which offer this kind of amusement, a good recommendation is of vital importance. If you decide to venture on something like this, we assume that just sitting on the sled is not how you imagine it to be. You want to be the master behind the wheel. You want to feel the adrenalin when you take your foot off the brake and start flying like a bird with nothing more to bank on than a five-minute ‘How to stay alive’ course. This is exactly what you want – take our word for it!

The people at our camp highly recommended that we should go for a family company Snowdog Arctic Adventure. Not only are these chaps funny and chatty, but they’re also amazing instructors and very thorough stylists when it comes to getting appropriately dressed for the occasion. They’re fantastic cooks and generous hosts too. There you have it! Without any exaggeration whatsoever! They’re not in a hurry to finish the ride even when the temperature drops below freezing point. They make awesome photos and take you to fantastic locations for observing the Northern Lights. Peter, our Arctic guru, is one of the coolest people we met in Sweden (possibly because he comes from Holland).

 

Clothing

Let’s take it step by step. The first thing you should consider is proper clothing. Being fully and warmly dressed every day in wintertime is something that goes without saying. Warm underclothes, waterproof snowsuits and ski suits, winter hats, balaclavas, gloves, thick socks and a pair of warm long boots.

Now make it all double. Wear an Arctic coverall, three pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves and special boots. When you’re sitting on the sled (sometimes you have to let your partner ‘take the reins’), the wind is so strong that it literally cuts like a knife. You can forget about enjoyment if you freeze to death, so pay heed to what your instructors tell you to do. They do know what they’re talking about.

 

Kennel

The kennels are usually on some hillside in the midst of the tundra. Even before you notice them, you’ll hear barking and almost wolf-like howling. Listen a part of it here.

The dogs will be waiting neatly lined in front of their kennels. This immediately made Igor feel at home. He even found a name tag with his own name on one of the kennel doors. His four-legged namesake started playfully wagging his tail the moment he saw him. It was love at first sight.

Kennel in Sweden

Mushers are actually extremely fond of dogs and they dedicate a great deal of their lives to caring about them, which is contrary to the popular belief that this practice represents a case of animal abuse and exploitation. A way of getting acquainted with the dogs before the ride is to give them a big cuddle. We were absolutely mesmerized by Woody – a nine-year-old veteran with the temper of a puppy. He’s as mad as a box of frogs and extremely jealous.

Woody

Don’t expect to see a pack of purebred blue-eyed huskies. The dogs that pull the sleds are a breed of huskies, malamutes, greyhounds and sheep dogs. They are totally different from one another, but the thing that binds them together is their cuddliness and an insatiable passion for running. If they have spent the day in the kennels, they’ll be poised for action in the evening, just waiting for the signal to start flying like eagles.

During the first year and a half, the only things that the puppies do are running and getting used to one another. The most obedient and docile dogs are chosen to be lead dogs.

They will take front position and steer the rest of the team when their time comes. They set the pace for the rest of the pack and are free to make a pit stop whenever they want. They’re in charge because they know the way. They make decisions. Six dogs are commonly used, but in sled dog racing, this number can exceed ten. They move at a speed of 15-25 km/h, but they can reach the speed of 30 km/h when they compete. Our ‘caravan’ had two sleds – one had six and the other one five dogs. This precautionary measure had to be taken just to make sure that our sled wasn’t moving at a higher speed, in which case we would have bumped into sled in front of us.

 

The ride

The training is short. You stand on the runners and you have two types of brakes – the one slows down and the other one stops the sled. Don’t loosen your grip. Keep the balance. Keep a safe distance between the sleds. And basically, that’s all there is to it. You’ll survive and have something to recount for the rest of your life.

There are day rides and night rides – both have certain advantages. If you choose the day ride, you can enjoy the surreal white landscape, whereas during the night you might be so lucky as to see aurora borealis. We chose to ride at night and didn’t regret it. The tundra we had seen during the day on snowmobiles looked much more powerful with flashlights attached to our winter hats. The dogs’ bums cheerfully wriggling before us! A crazy bumpy ride! The best rollercoaster ever!

Midnight ride in Swedish thundras

If it should happen that the driver falls off the sled and they keep speeding out of control, the person sitting on the sled has to try to stop the pack, either by using their legs or carefully moving to the back to reach the brakes. When you get back to the kennels, give your dogs a treat – a cube of meaty protein bomb that they will ravenously devour. And then it’s your turn.

Return to kannel and feeding the dogs

When you enter the warm log cabin, a delicious hot soup made from five types of Arctic mushrooms and warm pita bread will be waiting for you by the hearth. Our hosts were so amazing that we spent a long time chatting with them. We even got a cinnamon biscuit and some horrible Romanian brandy. A combination to die for!

All things considered, the price may sound a bit mind-blowing at first. But it really does pays off! Renting an Arctic coverall, the company of the dogs and a truly authentic meal with mushers are all included in the price.

 

This will definitely be an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will be recounting with a childlike grin on your face for years to come. The feeling is indescribable! Just go ahead – do not hesitate to try!

A couple of tips:

  • As far as clothing is concerned, too much is never enough.
  • Try to find gloves that will allow you to use a mobile phone or camera freely, otherwise you’ll get frostbite.

 

53 Comments

  1. duffelbagspouse

    What a fun experience. I get so cold, so I never really considered this. It’s not like its ever been an opportunity either because I’ve never been to the Arctic either. But these tips and your overall excitement make it sound like a fun experience. I am glad you also took the kennel into consideration, animal experiences should be vetted to make sure you are benefitting cruel companies.

    10/03/2017 Reply
  2. Donna Ashworth

    I would love to do this! We came across some huskies on holiday in Courcheval recently, it was so amazing to watch them pull the sledge!

    10/03/2017 Reply
  3. Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com

    I love both dogs and nature. However, I don’t like the cold that much. Which month would be best to try when the weather is not that cold?

    10/03/2017 Reply
    • mozeci

      Hmmm…you can always try during summer. Sled on wheels. But it’s not the same 🙂

      10/03/2017
  4. 100cobbledroads

    I did not know that they have a mix of dogs..I assumed they would be a pack from the same breed. And it sounds like it takes considerable skill too..manoeuvring the sled along.

    10/03/2017 Reply
  5. Nicole Helgason

    Those dogs are so cute. I always wanted to try dog sledding but I was worried about falling off the sled and the dogs just keep running.

    10/03/2017 Reply
  6. nickymackenzie

    Those dogs are just adorable! I’d love to do something like this, but I can’t say I particularly enjoy being cold! Sounds like you had a great experience though

    10/03/2017 Reply
  7. lois

    WOW! It all looks exciting. Those are great dogs, having fun doing what they love to do.

    10/03/2017 Reply
  8. ellisveen

    I love dogs and i read about opportunities like this but never knew that some actually allowed you to be ‘behind the wheel’.

    10/03/2017 Reply
  9. departureandarrivals

    What an adventure! Seems like the dogs are enjoying it too. How fast were they running?

    10/03/2017 Reply
  10. mackinawroad

    I had no idea you could do this! And so glad to hear that the dogs are treated well and doing what they love to do 🙂

    10/03/2017 Reply
  11. Louiela

    Exciting!!! Dog sledding in the Arctic just added in my list to dream of 🙂 Great tips for beginners… Now from somebody who grew in a tropical country, I can’t imagine how cold it is…

    10/03/2017 Reply
  12. whatsvictoria

    Oh my, I did this last week . It was SO much fun!

    10/03/2017 Reply
  13. Agentszerozerosetter

    Omg!!!Such a great experience!
    Never did it, but I would love to try so much!

    11/03/2017 Reply
  14. toastycritic

    This looks like it must have been an incredible experience. I can imagine that too much would not be enough when it came to clothes. I don’t think frostbite and me would ever be friends.

    11/03/2017 Reply
  15. woodyworldpacker

    Lovely post! I did it during a work trip to Finish Lapland. Such an amazing experience!

    11/03/2017 Reply
  16. ilive4travel

    I would love to have a go at this, it looks like so much fun. Am sure I would end up in a ditch somewhere though!!

    11/03/2017 Reply
  17. Sarah Bailey

    Having fun with the man’s best buddy and a ride with them would be so much fun. I hope I can try it one day.

    11/03/2017 Reply
  18. Mimi & Mitch

    This is ao our dream to go do this in Alaska. We love the dogs and all, they are so beautiful creatures. Thanks for sharing this great experience!

    11/03/2017 Reply
  19. Rose

    This looks fun! I hope to try this as well. It seems exciting.

    ❤️Rose
    http://www.traveleatpinas.com

    11/03/2017 Reply
  20. Krista @ Gringita

    So cool! I have a friend who used to do this. The night ride looks so so amazing! How cool that you got to mush!!

    11/03/2017 Reply
  21. Melanie

    Awesome!! I have always wanted to go dog-sledding!! Great tips!

    11/03/2017 Reply
  22. Krysten

    I can’t even imagine how much clothing you would need for this type of adventure. I would love to experience this one day, especially the night ride, but I’d be afraid of freezing to death.

    11/03/2017 Reply
  23. Joice

    wow this is really cool and interesting to see how it works, I had just seen this in movies

    12/03/2017 Reply
  24. Ami Bhat

    Your first point is the most important for me….I would so freeze and would need to really bundle up. Love the practical tips that you have shared along the way. I do hope I get to try this some day.

    12/03/2017 Reply
    • mozeci

      If you follow instructions you will not get cold but hot… Literally!

      12/03/2017
  25. Isadora Koller

    hahaha reading the title I already got over excited here!! I always watched this kind of thing on TVs and wondered if I could ever try such a thing!
    It is funny because we grow up thinking they only use huskies, but othats not the reality!

    12/03/2017 Reply
  26. Cynthia Nicoletti

    Sounds like great fun. I always think that the dogs shouldn’t be doing that kind of job. Always make sure they are well taken care of..

    12/03/2017 Reply
  27. Wanderlust Vegans

    I would imagine it would be quite cold. Especially once you get going. All that wind in your face.

    12/03/2017 Reply
  28. Katja Knox

    I went mushing once in lapland. It was such an adrenaline rush!
    Katja xxx
    http://www.katnapped.com

    12/03/2017 Reply
  29. thebookswag

    lol, so I have a healthy fear of dogs! I see them and I ran on the opposite direction, and sometimes if not most times, they chase me! anyway I loved reading this article, it brought the tv version to reality 🙂

    12/03/2017 Reply
  30. Teena

    WOW, I felt like I was on this exciting ride with you. I am not much of an out door kind of person but this would defiantly but something I would’t mind doing at least once!

    12/03/2017 Reply
  31. Fatima Torres at MTME

    I’ve always imagined the training would be long. That’s pretty awesome how they choose the most docile of the pack.

    13/03/2017 Reply
  32. Cameron

    Aw, this looks like so much fun! Definitely dress warm haha.

    | diaryofasouthernmillennial.com

    13/03/2017 Reply
  33. Elizabeth O.

    I’ve never experienced this before. I can imagine how challenging it might be, it also sounds very much worth it. Thanks for the guidelines.

    13/03/2017 Reply
  34. Carol Cassara

    I’ve never tried dog sledding in my life! I’m not sure if I can pull it off but it sounds like a good learning experience.

    13/03/2017 Reply
  35. angrisk

    Wow What an adventure!

    13/03/2017 Reply
  36. WorldGlimpses

    Like dog sledding is not enough, you just had to go at midnight! 😀 Just joking, it really sounds like a lot of fun. Photos of the tour are great, I could almost feel heavy darkness around while reading. Thanks for sharing, guys!

    13/03/2017 Reply
  37. Becky Angell

    I did this exact same one on Christmas day a few years ago, it was so much fun I loved it. Never knew you could go in the dark, I wouldn’t have fancied doing some of those bends in the dark!! 🙂

    13/03/2017 Reply
  38. travelerettenyc

    This seems like a real adventure! I love huskies and I would love to take a ride with them. I can see why you chose the night time experience. It’s just more atmospheric!

    13/03/2017 Reply
  39. Helenr

    That looks like so much fun! I would love to try it someday.

    13/03/2017 Reply
  40. Ana Ojha

    It looks like an experience of a lifetime in such a cold weather. I’d love to try it!

    13/03/2017 Reply
  41. Karyna

    This looks SO fun! I’m dying to try it one day! I just hope the dogs are well treated, that’s my only concern with these kinds of things.

    13/03/2017 Reply
  42. philip

    This looks like am an amazing adventure. fall of that thing though!

    14/03/2017 Reply
  43. Archana Singh

    Very useful tips. I tried this in Finland. Super fun it is.

    14/03/2017 Reply
  44. Torie

    Omg! That is really cool. I would love to do something like that one day. I would. E so scared

    14/03/2017 Reply
  45. Anonymous

    Awesome! For sure want to be properly prepared for that hobby!

    14/03/2017 Reply
  46. gokulr27

    Do they go like real fast. I have never seen this activity before. Should check out in Youtube.

    15/03/2017 Reply
  47. James Smith

    Since watching the movie Snow Dogs I’ve always thought about dog sledding the next opportunity I get. I can imagine how excited and energetic they all are, especially if the have been in the kennels all night!

    15/03/2017 Reply
  48. Sandy N Vyjay

    The sledding experience seems really awesome. Riding away on the sled in pitch darkness at midnight, seems the stuff that dreams are made of. It is definitely a once in a lifetime kind of experience.

    16/03/2017 Reply
  49. Ashlea

    I can’t wait to try this. Now I need to plan an arctic trip.

    19/03/2017 Reply
  50. Fresh Yacon Root

    I enjoy looking through your weblog. It was Really thrilling. 🙂

    25/10/2017 Reply
    • mozeci

      Thanks a lot Ronda!

      25/10/2017

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