Maria, Donald, and their Siberian huskies team up to delight their visitors with an authentic mushing experience in Swedish Lapland. Aurora Borealis Adventures‘ dog sledding tours are designed to seemlessly connect guests with the natural beauty of the area and are offered year round, often combined with seasonal activities. An unforgettable experience awaits, whether it be sledding through forests and frozen lakes in the winter, stand up padding in the warmer seasons, or enjoying the northern lights whilst sharing stories around the fire.
1. How and why did you get involved in mushing? Why are you passionate about it?
We bought our first Husky, a 7-year-old super leader, in 1991 to help both us and our youngsters to know what mushing is all about. Based on our experience, for those just starting up, we recommend that you buy an experienced dog instead of a puppy.
2. What has mushing taught you about leadership?
A leader has to be strong, but gentle. If you trust your dogs, they also trust you. Again, when starting out, it is important to decide how much time you want and can spend with your dogs.
3. How do you choose your dogs? What is a “good” sled dog?
The dogs for us have to be social, have a good appetite, and be focused on moving forward, such as they are not constantly looking back or getting distracted by things on the side of the trail. They also need to have tough feet, as we hardly ever put boots on our dogs.
4. Can you please explain a little bit about the breeding process?
First of all, both the female and the males have to be around 3 years old. The reason for that is that we need to know if they can cope with long distances and people, we also need to ensure that they eat well and that they do not have any underlying or hidden diseases that may have yet to come to the surface.
It is also important that both parents have a good appetite and build, and are not closely related to each other. The Swedish Kennel Club’s website is a good resource for us to find information to plan our breeding and ensure that the dogs are registered with the Swedish Kennel Club.
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5. How important is teamwork in mushing?
Teamwork is very important. The dogs in the team have to be able to run cohesively, but a strong relationship has to exist between the musher and the dogs.
6. How do you house and what do you feed your dogs? How do you ensure their overall safety and wellbeing?
Our dogs live in kennels, with two or three dogs per kennel. The kennels are about 25-30 square meters and they have insulated doghouses with wood wool to lay on. The kennels are surrounded by an open area of 3,000 square meters, where they can run around. This area also has two bath tubs, so the dogs can jump in and cool down, as well as three towers where they can jump up and play around. Half of the area is grass and the other half is a forest.
7. What do you do with your dogs when they retire?
We keep them as long as we can, so most of our dogs run until the age of 12. When they start getting older, we use them for training pups and youngsters.
8. Are mushers born or made? Can mushing be learned and improved upon?
You can certainly learn to be a musher. In fact, it can be a risk of being born “a musher” or “into mushing”, because you might not be as passionate about this activity as someone who chooses to learn it, which is detrimental to the dogs, who are important members of the family.
9. What tips and tricks would you give to someone interested in getting started in mushing?
# 1. To start, buy an older, experienced lead dog.
#2. Prepare yourself for the costs associated with mushing; it will cost you more than you think to run a dog sledding team, as you may need a new place to live, a larger car, an ATV or training cart, harnesses, lines, etc.
10. Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
Before you start, educate yourself and verify the rules and regulations for keeping dogs in your country and area. In Sweden, we have very strict rules compared to many other countries, so keeping dogs is probably twice as expensive compared to the USA. You also need a permit to keep more than 9 dogs, but the benefit we have is that we can go almost everywhere in the nature because of Right of Public Access. This is a unique right in Sweden for people to roam freely in the countryside, as long as they do not disturb or destroy.
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Aurora Borealis Adventures HB
Ekorrsele 35, 922 91 Vindeln, Sweden
+46-(0)730 933 076 (Donald) & +46-(0)705 799 338 (Maria)