Training and racing

Training And Racing

Happy dogs that run because they love it, that is a big part of our philosophy with training and racing sled dogs. 

We believe that a dog that is healthy, well fed, trained for their task and well taken care of will also perform at it¹s best.

All our training is done with positive reinforcements and never asking for more than what the dogs can do.

Summer conditioning is done on a dog walker, which keeps the dogs in fairly good shape during the offseason. The dogs are walking until the end of September and by then they have about 220 miles on the walker.

By the time we start taking them out in teams with the 4-wheeler they are pretty well muscled and conditioned.

This makes the tough 4-wheel training a lot easier on their bodies.

In October and the two first weeks of November we train with the 4-wheeler. Usually we don¹t do more than 8 miles on bare ground before we are able to go on snow with sled.

Hopefully we can start training on snow in the middle of November.

By then we are doing runs from 10 miles and upon different kinds of trails, soft, punchy, and slow or hard-packed and fast.

Before the racing season starts in January we like to have a few long (25 miles) runs with the team to see how they react on the distance.

We try to do one or two local races in the beginning of the season for the yearlings to get a feel of racing before we go to the main races.

After that we go for the big ones. We have one or two main races every season that we try to peak for.

What does it take to win?

  • Good dogs.
  • Best training
  • Best feeding
  • Best care
  • The best equipment and all of the thousands of little details can make a big difference when it all has to come together on one weekend.

A good economi and lots of hard work. There are no shortcuts to victory!

Egil Ellis winner of IFSS World Championship Unlimited Class 2001 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Mike and Elvira in lead. 
Photo: Karl Heinz Raubuch,Schlittenhund Magazine

Helen Lundberg winner of IFSS World Championship 2001 in Fairbanks. Rusty
and Lira in lead. 
Photo: Karl Heinz Raubuch, Shclittenhund Magazine

The Kennel

Ellis Racing Sled Dogs kennel consist normally of 60 to 70 adults and 20 to 30 puppies.

All the dogs have insulated doghouse with plenty of clean, fresh straw, year around.

We keep the females in a separate fenced area in the kennel. All our puppies stay in large pens and they spend several hours every day running around in a big fenced area, playing with each other.

Since September 2001 we have relocated our kennel in Willow Alaska. We moved all our 100 dogs and 3 cats from Sweden to Alaska

The puppies love their new “playground”. Egil have designed and built a special “puppie” section on the kennel.

THE DOGS

Since 1991 we have developed our own breed of dogs. They are a crossbreed between Alaskan Husky and German or English shorthaired pointer.

We have selected dogs for open class sprint racing and the goal was to get a type of dog that would burn up the Alaskan trails!

In Sweden racing with German- and English Short haired pointers has a long time tradition. These dogs have been bred for this purpose more than 50 years.

The dogs have an enormous working attitude and are extremely tough to themselves under hard conditions working in a team.

In Scandinavia you can see a lot of limited class team that are made up of purebred English and German shorthaired pointers.In the 80s several good Alaskan Huskies were imported to Sweden and Norway.

Some of the top mushers also realized that if they one day would be able to beat the best Alaskan teams they had to come up with something new, something that the mushers did not have in Alaska.

We could not breed better Alaskan huskies than what they already had in Alaska, with the selected dogs that were imported to Sweden and Norway.

So this is where the sled dog bred pointers came in handy. We crossed the best German- and English shorthaired pointers with the best of the imported Alaskan husky lines and got a new type of sled dog, the Scandinavian Hound!

The pointers are originally bred for hunting in the mountains.

They have enormous stamina and endurance, running for a whole day during hunting is no problem.

The individuals we use for crossbreeding are small, light boned and mentally very stable, in comparison with the bigger, heavier type (60 to 90 pound.) used for pulka racing. Our pointers and most of our crossbreeds have a weight of 45 to 50 pounds.

When crossbreeding two totally unrelated types of dogs you seem to get a fantastic out cross effect, a hybrid vigor.

Very sound dogs with tough stabile mentality.

An enormous working attitude, that sometimes can be hard to curb. Very eager to please, when trained for something they will do everything for you. Extremely friendly and social, make¹s great pets also. 

Very good eaters and need a lot more food than the average sled dog breed especially in the winter because of their short coats and high metabolism. 
They need more maintenance in the winter: Insulated doghouses, lots of straw, blankets, extra padded harnesses. 

Our pure breed pointers, that have no coat at all, live inside the house during the winter and stay home from training when it is below -10F.

MIKE

My favorite dog so far is my main leader MIKE. He is fast as Michael Johnson, strong as Mike Tyson, and can jump like Michael Jordan!

Ever since Mike was a little puppy he has been special.

We could see it at an early age that this was going to be a super leader, he was not afraid of anything, he was always running in front of the other puppies and at the same time extremely focused on us.

Mike is a big dog, 55 pounds.

His body is hard as a rock.

Mike’s characteristics in the team are that he starts out slowly and sometimes carefully. It takes him a couple of miles to get warmed up.

But the farther you go and the closer you get to the finish, the harder he drives. Sometimes the rest of the team dogs are hanging by the neckline when he sprints to the finish line

PUPPIES

When we select dogs to breed with, they must have proved their qualities in the team, preferable during many years. We try only to breed with leaders, because it is one of the qualities that is easily lost in a breeding program.

When we select dogs to breed with, they must have proved their qualities in the team, preferably during many years.

The pre-training evaluation of the puppies consist of long walks with them in the forest. There we can see what attitude they have towards running in a group and staying up front.

They learn to handle their bodies at high speeds, jump over logs, crossing open water and staying close to us. We often take them on rides in the dog truck so they are ready for travelling in the fall.

Before we harness break puppies at 6 month of age, we tie them up to a chain or walk with them on a leash.

This teaches them to be tied up and they also learn how to untangle them selves.

They get their own house and 2 meter long chain where they stay for 2 -3 weeks. During this time we limit the amount of free running that they are used to.

After this period we take two grown up leaders and 4 puppies and go!

The last years we have harness broken all puppies on snow. Another good method is to teach them to chase the snow mobile when they are loose.

Then when you harness brake them you run the snow mobile in front of the team and they automatically start to chase the snow mobile and forget about all the lines and harnesses.

We treat all puppies equal. They all get the same training and chance to prove them selves. Usually the big, heavy males are better suited for limited class racing but there we have Mike as an exception to that rule!

elis

Egil taking care of the next generation

Egil is playing with some of this years puppies and future stars on the team. He spends lot of time together with his puppies in his new puppie playground.

Egil Ellis and Martin Buser promoted sleddogsport, signed photos and answered hundreds of question Saturday the 27 of April when Alaska Animal Food Ware House had its 15th Anniversary Sale in the stores in Anchorage and Wasilla.

Martin Buser is the 2002 Iditarod Champion, this is his third victory on the Iditarod Trail and Egil Ellis just finished a racing season where he won the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous for the third time in a row and the Open North American Championship for the forth time in a row.

Egil takes third Exxon Mobile victory

Egil wrapped up a dominant weekend with a win Sunday, clocking the best day and overall times in the Exxon/Mobile Open Championships at Tozier Track 2 and 3rd February 2002.

Egil, who built a 30 second first day lead on Saturday, posted an overall time of 1 hour, 52 minutes and nine seconds.

Buddy Strepper was second at 1.53.01 followed by Eric Lanser at 1.54.36 and Helen Lundberg with a two day total of 1.55.20.

Ellis traveled the 18 mile course in 56.55 on Sunday, with Streeper putting up the second-fastest day time of 57.17.

Egil made his fist appearance in Alaska this season a perfect one by sweeping the mushing classes at the Alaska Dog Musher’s Gold Run.

Egil has won just about every race he’s entered for the past two years showed no signs of slowing down as he won both the 6-dog and the 10-dog classes in the first championship sprint race of the season in Alaska.

While Egil won a hotly contested battle in the 6-dog, he finished well ahead of the rest of the field in the 10-dog class , with his partner Helen

Lundberg claiming second place, proving once again that they will have the teams to beat in Alaska this year.

The 10-dog class was all Ellis and Lundberg. Ellis had the fastest time both days and sat a new trail record on Saturdays run with the time of 35.51,9 over the 12,2 mile long trail.