Cross-country skiing and sled racing come together to form the unique sport of skijoring! All you need to enjoy this exhilarating sport is a pair of cross-country skis, a dog (or horse) that is willing and able, and snow-covered ground! Skijoring allows you to take in some invigorating fresh air while spending some quality time with your pet. You'll both enjoy a great workout and you'll be ready to hit the trails again soon for another fun outing.
There are two different types of skijoring: dog skijoring and equestrian skijoring. While the origin of dog skijoring is unknown, it is documented that the sport has been around for a long time. The sport may have just developed naturally from someone in the north country trying to walk their dog with a pair of skis on. Since cross-country skiing was the main mode of transportation in the north years ago, someone somewhere came up with the brilliant idea of hitching themselves up to their dog for a quicker (and less exhausting!) method of travel. Since an untrained dog will generally pull at a leash to go faster and farther, the idea made sense! It’s easy to see how a brisk walk/ski with an excited dog may turn into a sport pretty easily. Equestrian skijoring is a sport as well, although not as common since more people have dogs than horses. Translated into ski diving in Norwegian, there are competitions for both types of skijoring in short and long races around the world.
How it Works
The most important accessory a person needs to go skijoring is a dog (or horse) who is motivated to run and work cooperatively with its handler. The handler and dog(s) both wear separate harnesses and a rope is strung between them and attached to the harnesses. If using a horse, the rope is connected to the saddle. The person uses poles for balance and steering and offers commands to direct their animal. The animal(s) will then pull the skier the through an obstacle course where they attempt to get points for completing different obstacles. Ski Joring America hosts many events including a yearly championship with multiple divisions based on skill level.
What You Should Know
Skijoring doesn't have to be competitive. You can enjoy the sport for recreation if you want. petMD says that this is great exercise and activity for a dog as long as it is willing and able to do it. They recommend not using a dog that is under 30 lbs. as they are not large enough to pull a person safely. Any dog that likes to run can get in on this activity, but the best breeds include huskies, malamutes, chows, mastiffs, greyhounds, labs, and German shepherds. Always use a harness for your dog instead of a collar. The pressure and weight of a skier attached to a collar could cause serious damage to your dog. If your dog seems unable or unwilling to pull you, don’t force it. When you first start out, especially if you are using a horse, hold on to the rope instead of attaching it to you. In the event that the animal gets spooked or sees something it wants to chase after, you won't get dragged down the street. Keep the first few trips short and close to home so both you and your pet have time to get used to it without getting exhausted. Skijoring is a fun winter sport that allows you to spend quality time with your animals. It’s also a great mode of transportation in an area that has so much snow that traveling on roads is either not possible or is just dangerous. Just be sure to keep it safe for both you and your pet so that everyone can enjoy themselves.