Husky . . . Texas . . . No Snow or Sleds . . . What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing that a little Tejas ingenuity can’t fix. Payne Harrison and his family adopted Chloe last December and fell in love with her. But sufficient exercise? Hmmm. With no marathon runners in the family, that presented a bit of a problem. As a new husky owner Payne subscribed to Mushing Magazine, and saw an article by a woman in California who faced the same dilemma. The answer: A rig called the California Chariot (Grand Chariot for adults). Payne got a X-back harness and a tug line via mail order and bingo! The Texas Musher was born. Payne’s wife rides in front of Chloe on her bike calling to her, and Chloe takes off in pursuit with Payne in the musher’s position. "I was amazed at the pulling power of this dog when she puts her shoulder to it," observed Payne. "I weigh 220 and wondered if I was too heavy for her. Those concerns were put to rest when she was pulling me up an incline and saw a squirrel up ahead. It was like popping the clutch on a Corvette, and I had to rein her in using all my weight and the handbrake. Unbelievable." Payne says it’s unbelievable fun, too; although they do get some strange looks.
For those who want to try it, some pointers:
- Always wear a helmet, and kneepads and elbow pads would also be a good idea.
- Do it on a bike path. Avoid the roads if at all possible.
- The trick is to keep the slack out of the tug line. Otherwise it can get caught in the wheel. As such, you constantly have
- to gauge the chariot’s speed relative to the dog’s speed and apply a little brake as needed.
- NEVER let the chariot go so fast that you couldn’t jump off and recover without a fall.
- Until the weather cools, do it at first light when it’s cool enough.
- Be mindful that you’re on concrete and don’t go so long that the dog’s footpads might bruise.
- Have a friend on a family member ride ahead on a bike and the dog will stay on track better and pull better.
- Be patient and take it slow and in small increments at first, until you and the dog get used to it.
- Praise and reward the dog when you finish, and make sure they have water afterwards.
- Get your application in early for the Iditarod.
Chloe's pulling rig as seen in picture: http://www.markysparkytoys.com/html/toycategories/CatCalChariot.html
Return to Success Stories