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Colorado Mountain Mushers: Keeping up with the sled team(s)

Colorado Mountain Mushers
Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 28, 2022

SARGENTS — If you've ever wondered what the sport of dog sledding entails or looks like, the Colorado Mountain Mushers might be the group to answer your questions, so we caught up with the group (not an easy task considering the speed of some of their canine athletes) and learned a bit of what it means to be a musher.

During the last weekend of February, the Colorado Mountain Mushers (CMM) hosted a friendly race that brought in teams of dogs and their mushers from all over, to speed across the snow-covered tundra that surrounds Sargents, Colorado.

"It's kind of a spiritual experience," commented Natalie Hess, a musher, "to stand on the back of a sled and watch them work and let them do their thing."

The group, established in 1989, works to "foster novice and family racing along with other working dog associated winter sports by organizing a fun racing circuit of professional quality, encouragement of new mushers and to promote and foster the well being of sled dogs."

In addition to working to educate the public on matters regarding dog sledding, the group advocates for better treatment of dogs in various situations; the CMM hosts a number of sled dog opportunities each year that range from educational clinics to dry land racing, sprints, and mid-distance races.

The race in Sargents was a mix of pretty much everything, with competitions held for both six-dog and four-dog teams as well as competitions held for skijoring.

To say that those in attendance (dogs included) were stoked to be a part of the proceedings would be an understatement of the tallest order.

"The dogs know whats going on," stated Ronny Ullrich, president of CMM, "and they know what's going to happen next and that's why they're so excited, they're ready to go."

Following the races, you could find mushers with their teams, reminiscing on their time out in the snow.

"I don't know how to explain it [but] I can see a sense of accomplishment in their face," said Julie Nelson, another musher in attendance, "they're happy, they're proud of themselves, we praise them of course, and they know when they've done well."

Mushers involved in the sport describe it as more of a lifestyle than anything else, with the dogs becoming part of the family.

The Colorado Mountain Mushers are members of Mush with PRIDE. "PRIDE" stands for Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s Environment. The relationship between sled dogs and humans is one of the oldest bonds of its kind. Modern sled dog owners are proud of their dogs as canine athletes that are bred and trained to do what they love: run as part of a team. Mush with PRIDE supports the responsible care and humane treatment of all dogs and is dedicated to enhancing the care and treatment of sled dogs in their traditional and modern uses.
Colorado Mountain Mushers

You can find information on other sled dog-related events inside the United States HERE.