Heather and Kurt run Siberian husky racing events exclusively at Winton House. The husky events are usually staged in the walled garden. It works well because there are no distractions; the pheasants can prove very tempting in the paddock! Groups of 10 to 16 visitors can take part at any one time, although 10 is the ideal size.
Kurt says: “These events need proper preparation: the dogs have to be evenly matched in 2 dog teams. This is an opportunity for visitors to experience the thrill of running a small team of huskies over a short distance, and individual timed runs make it really competitive but great fun.”
Another option for less energetic visitors to Winton is organising a husky demonstration and ‘hug a husky’.
When asked how they became involved with Siberian huskies, Heather says: “We were semi-retired and just wanted a dog to walk in the woods. Then, we saw some huskies in Sweden when we were there on holiday. A visit to ‘Dogmanay’ in Holyrood Park followed and we were smitten!”
Heather and Kurt researched huskies through the Kennel Club and contacted some breeders. They picked up two 8 week old puppies, Mishka and Yukon.
Heather and Kurt’s team has now grown to 9 Kennel Club registered Siberian Huskies, which costs about £50 a week to feed on raw meat or fish and Red Mills Racer (special greyhound racing food!).
They run 2, 3 or 4 dog teams which pull 3 wheeled rigs. For the last five years Kurt has raced a 6 dog team in club rallies. They are always looking for ways to improve their team and even use video to play back training runs and races.
Heather and Kurt’s huskies take part in races in Ae Forest near Dumfries, Culbin Forest near Forres, Ford Estate, Berwickshire, The Black Isle and, of course, in Aviemore where 250 dog teams gather for the biggest UK rally in January each year.
This March, they drove with all their dogs to Folldal, Hedmark in Norway, which is particularly popular for husky racing as there are superb racing trails.
Kurt said, “It was fantastic to use the sled in the snow and the dogs all loved it.”
Siberian huskies are very affectionate but quite strong willed. They are not guard dogs but they do have a strong ‘prey drive’. Huskies have to be exercised regularly – always on leads – and are happiest when they are active. Living locally, Heather and Kurt can run their dogs daily on the Winton Walks.
“We took part in one very successful event at Winton,” Heather concludes. “Various other activities were running in tandem, including ‘blind 4 x 4 driving’ in the paddock and a Winton highland games on the lawn by the house.
“We’ve always loved Winton and still do most of our early training on the Winton Walks.”
Your Siberian Husky Glossary:
Gee = right
Haw = left
Hike on, or hike hike = run
Stop = stop. (Very important!)