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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Smokin' Oken; Nails it!

"I don't know. Do you really think I'm ready for this? Where's Klaus. Oh there he is! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh."

"Alright, I'm feeling ok about all of this single lead stuff. I think I can do it."

"Actually, I really am nailin' this single lead thing and we're going in THAT direction. No ifs ands or buts."

"Ya, I think he's got it. I can lay back a little bit and take it easy", thinks Klaus. But Topa thinks she can do a better job. "I'll just keep my eye on the trail and I'll be up there some day soon and show him a thing or two."

My smiley boy

If you recall, Oken seemed to lack the confidence up in lead during our last run to contradict Zala. And miss Zala was slotted for a demotion due to her silliness and lack of desire to please the musher on that run.

Oken was hooked up first and kept the line tight while the other six were hooked up behind him. Klaus was in point directly behind him for moral support. Keeping the line tight, Oken continued to look back to see who of his kennel mates would be joining us on this run. He appeared a bit nervous so we continued to praise him and hug him in between hook ups.

All dogs hooked up and off we went! Roughly 100' from the hook down spot is a fork in the lake trail. He took a right(gee) and I asked for a left(haw). He then took a left. Good boy, Oken! I want to get him to the point where he looks back if in doubt. This will soon come as we take lefts and rights intermittently until he must question his direction before he takes it.

Once under the Luce Line Trail bridge that leads from our little bay to the bigger lake, we typically go to the right so Oken took a right before questioning our direction. I asked for a left (Haw) and he took a left! Good boy, Oken!!

He continued to dazzle us all around the lake with only a few minor confusions which required that Rebecca or I get off the sled and support his turn. Rebecca quickly learned that when doing this, one should always know where the team is going as she found herself on top of Wimzi as they turned sharply. It is also not a good idea to run directly in front of the sled unless you want to suddenly get scooped up, which, in an emergency might be the best way to approach it. She didn't get scooped up but nearly!

Rebecca ran the team a good distance today while I "chilaxed" (Rebecca term) in the sled. I thought she was ready for some fancy maneuvering so I directed her past the new dock that surprised us when setting the trail. As we neared the dock, the dogs came within inches, making the sled come even closer. I instructed Rebecca to approach it with slight resistance, then the second it appeared as though we might hit it, she was to lower her center of gravity and throw her hips to the dock side. She did this flawlessly and the nose of the sled went to the right and away from the dock the second it needed to and the rest of the sled followed. Excellent job!

The same principle goes for going under the trail bridge. In her case, she needed to lower her center of gravity even more because she is so tall, she would likely knock her head on the under carriage. No issues under the bridge. Out we came and to the right we went as was the goal.

We tested Oken's abilities at the very end on the approach to the kennel. He took a left and we asked for a right turn to head back to the kennel. This confused him and I hopped out of the sled to support his turn and remained off, letting Rebecca take the team safely back.

Oken did an amazing job. I could see that Klaus was feeling a bit left out so he'll be up in lead on the next run.

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