Snow, sleds and dogs add up to fun

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Snow Farm lived up to its name last week, as about 30 competitors braved the weather to take part in the Wanaka Sled Dog Festival from Thursday to Saturday.

The three-day event is the only sled dog event in Australasia held on snow and competitors travelled from as far as Australia to participate. Dogs breeds ranged from traditional Siberian huskies through to German short-haired pointers and cross-breeds.

A vet was on course for all stages of the competition to ensure the dogs were happy and healthy after each race.

Competitor Kim Findlay, who raced a team of rescue dogs, said poor visibility made the event more challenging, and the less experienced dogs in her team were a little distracted by all the snow.

The courses twisted along the hill and were 4.5km to 8.5km in length, depending on the number of dogs in a team, she said.

“Because it winds, you can see dogs down in the valley below you. So sometimes your dogs will see them as well and they want to get down there to those dogs.

“It was hard work but we finished – that’s the aim.

“It’s heaps of fun. As long as you’ve got the right gear and it’s warm enough, it’s fine.

“I’m so proud of my dogs.”

Her dogs were taken out for runs three times a week to build their fitness and the team travelled to a competition roughly every second weekend.