Prue de Vries
CLUB/website: Tasmanian Association of Sled Dog Sports Inc, Siberian Husky Club of Victorian, Northern Victorian Sled Dog Club
PLACE WHERE I TRAIN: Our home borders state forests so we harness up at our back door and off we go
DISCIPLINES: Sprint (1 dog, 2 dog, 3 dog, 4 dog and 6 dog classes)
DOGS: We have 16 Siberian Huskies ranging in age from 14 months through to 11 years of age. We dedicate our time to giving homes to Siberians who have found themselves in the care of a rescue group through no fault of their own or those that need private rescuing / rehoming. We have rehabilitated many who have come to live with us and they are all healthy, happy and loving life on our farm and their time in harness.
WHEN DID YOU START MUSHING: We are relatively new to mushing having only taken up the sport 3 years ago and with no organised racing in Tasmania as yet we have travelled to Victoria for the last couple of years to participate in club events there.
THE BEST RESULTS:. Ha ha our best results are finishing a race, but in all seriousness our dogs and ourselves are running for fun, we don’t mind if they come first or last as long as they are happy and healthy, although we do have a competitive streak out on the course and we all try our hardest, but ultimately we are there for the enjoyment. We were pleased to have come mid field in some of the bigger 1 dog and 2 dog classes this year at the Nationals and improved our times at smaller club events as the season progressed.
MY HARDEST SLED DOG RACE: It had to be at Dinner Plain just a couple of weeks ago. Having started racing in 6 dog class for the first time this season we tackled the dreaded S-Bends and our little wooden sled was just not up to the task as we had issues with the drag mat and brake, we went down hard 3 times. Having fallen the first time at the top of the S-Bends incredibly hard resulting in bruised elbows, grazed forearms and smashed pride there was the briefest moment where I thought about scratching, but we hadn’t come all that way to scratch so we got up, pulled ourselves together and plodded on. The following heat the next day saw us borrow a Danler sled from a dear friend and what a difference that made, even wiping 15 minutes off our time from the previous heat the day before, we came home full of confidence, and dreaming of future races. Now saving up so that we can invest in a new sled.
THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT DURING A RACE: For me the most exciting moment is when we are at the start line and we can see the frenzied excitement of the dogs, they love that moment, they know the sound of the timer counting down, they are ready to run and it is their excitement that fuels us to give our best for them, no matter how tired we feel, no matter the hills in our way, to take off and feel their energy and strength , to see them striding out and leaning into their harnesses, to feel the dust, grit, mud in our face is pretty awesome.
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT THE SPORT: There is so much to like about this sport. We have 16 Siberian huskies who had never been in harness until we gave them a home with us, but seeing the happiness on their faces when running in harness really warms our hearts. This is what they love to do, there is no doubt. We love the camaraderie between people within the sport, we have had plenty of moments where we have needed a guiding hand, advice or assistance and so many people have willingly assisted us and for this we will be forever grateful. We love how anyone can be involved from the young to the not so young and how inclusive the sport is.
FAVOURITE RACE: This is tricky as we really enjoyed all of our races this year but the moment that really sticks out for me is racing (for only the second time) our 6 dog team in the second heat at Kingower with the Siberian Husky Club of Victoria. The fast, twisty, winding tracks were amazing and it was like a switch went off in my head that said actually we really can compete with some of the best teams out there, we just need to put another couple of seasons under our belt with our younger dogs and we know that we will be posting faster times. But ultimately like the majority we are out there to have fun with clean passes and to come across that finish line in one piece and with a smile on our faces.
WHY SLEDDOG RACING : If someone had said 5 years ago that we would be travelling for months on end with 16 dogs in tow travelling to sled dog races across Victoria and South Australia, I would have laughed and called them crazy. But things happen for a reason and I only wish that we were younger and had the opportunity to get involved in the sport years ago. But the timing is right for us now, yes the sport is addictive, our dogs love it, we are staying fit and active, (although we do have a lot more bumps and bruises than we used to) and the people involved in the sport are fantastic.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU TRAIN: We train weekly during winter months and more often when we are travelling with the dogs, sometimes daily depending on where we are camped. Our training season here in Tasmania generally kicks off in March although we have been known to harness up in January, and we can go right through with regular training until the end of October.
THE SPORT IN AUSTRALIA : From what we have seen so far is a sport that continues to grow and to see some of the Juniors who are participating out there the sport will be in good hands into the future. With the help of several people here in Tasmania we have established the Tasmanian Association of Sleddog Sports Inc and it is hoped that we can generate enough interest so that we can hold races within the state.