It’s never too late for a dog update! Here are recaps for all the yearlings after their first race, the Solstice 50.
From Saeward’s Team:
Dusky really rocked it at the Solstice 50! She provided steady power throughout the entire run, which is a wonderful accomplishment for a yearling in the excitement of their first race. She never got tangled and was very professional when passing other teams. Her only weakness during the run showed on uphills – at first, she tended to back off when we came to an uphill climb, perhaps with the expectation that the other dogs would take us up the hill and she could pull harder again after we reached the top. However, when she realized that the relatively small team needed her help to keep up the pace, she started pitching in more and pulling her share on the ascents. Given Dusky’s steady pace, she has a lot of potential as a long-distance racing dog!
Bull was definitely a strong team member for the Solstice 50, although he seemed distracted by the excitement of his first race. At the start, Bull was the yearling who seemed the most excited and nervous about all the onlookers and photographers lining the chute. When we were passed by a few teams in the beginning, Bull occasionally got tangled because he was gawking rather than paying attention to the line. However, Bull pulled strongly the entire time. Once his initial excitement and nervousness passed, he was very steady and professional. I think his first race was an awesome learning opportunity for Bull, and hope he’s going to love future events!
Bowser totally aced his first racing experience! At the starting line, he seemed completely calm and focused. He ran straight and smooth for the entire event, even when other dog teams were passing. Throughout the race, he simply pulled hard and never got tangled. He didn’t show any sign of getting tired throughout the run, and at the end when we unhooked the team, he was bouncing around as if he’d rested all day! Bowser’s steady power was really a cornerstone of the team, and it’ll be fun to see what he can accomplish at future races.
From Tyler’s Team:
“During the Solstice 50 our goal was to go slow and get some passing experience (being overtaken and overtaking teams). Over the first 10 miles we were over taken by 6 racing teams; the team did a great job of getting out of the way and not interfering with the oncoming dogs. Even with one of the passing teams stopping directly next to our team, standing shoulder to shoulder with our dogs, Yoshi, Toad and Mako all were great in keeping to themselves. Yoshi was the best performing yearling out of the three. Yoshi has constantly improved run after run and during the solstice 50, it showed. She was always pulling, working hard, and was rarely distracted. Toad and Mako on the other hand had some issues after being overtaken by those 6 teams. Once they got used to the rhythm of slowing down and stopping to let teams pass, they figured anytime we were slowing down we were about to let a team pass. It took about 30 to 45min after our last pass for Mako and Toad to figure out that slowing down didn't equal teams passing. After that time, they were back at it working hard. Around 25 miles in, we gave a wet snack on the side of the trail. Yoshi devoured her food, eating is something she has gotten much better at since the start of the season. Toad and Mako ate their kibble but at a slower pace than usual. All in all, the dogs did fairly well handling all the new experiences but Yoshi was the strongest and handled things much better than Mako and Toad did. I'm sure with a little more practice and experience the yearlings will take all these new skills in stride!
From my team:
Faff was a rock star. She had the least number of training miles of all the yearlings, but you would never have known. She pulled hard and was very excited. Even at the finish, Faff was barking and howling to keep on running! Given that the 40-mile race was the farthest the yearlings had been in their lifetime, I was thrilled with her enthusiasm. Her only hiccup was the passing. Because the race trail went out and back, we had at least two dozen head on passes. The first few went just fine, but unfortunately by the end, Mario and Faff were intimidated by upcoming sleds. Ironically, it wasn’t the dogs of the oncoming team that frightened them, but the sled and musher as they whooshed by. We’ll have to work on building back up her confidence for passing in tight areas.
Mario had an excellent race, but he was probably the weakest of the three yearlings on my team. And really, his only weakness is his lack of confidence. Mario moves like a ballerina, pulls hard, and loves running, but he’s easily anxious about passing teams or anything out of the ordinary. Every time we had a head-on pass, Mario would bail for the trees. Teaching young dogs how to pass is one of the main goals when training yearlings, so we have a lot to work on with him. Truthfully, it’s easier to correct an over-confident dog who jumps into oncoming teams than a timid dog who lacks confidence. Practice, practice, practice! We’ll have to start with wide trails where Mario feels comfortable and then just slowly work our way up to narrow trails. Luckily, there are lots of mushers in Two Rivers, so there’s no shortage of practice.
Thresher ran one up from wheel, and I could hardly tell that he was a yearling. Focused, driven, and unfazed by all the passes, he did wonderfully. I have high hopes for this guy. Truthfully, I’m struggling to come up with anything else. Thresher was flawless. He had a smooth trot, didn’t get distracted, and did wonderfully. Enough said. Perhaps his only area of improvement was snacking. He eats well in the yard, but he did not eat his snack on the race. There was just too much exciting stuff going on!