By Benjamin Thompson, M.S., CTRS
What is it?
‘Inclusive’ sled dog sports is the concept whereby appropriate customization, modification, and accommodation of equipment, techniques/training, and governance act to promote, increase access to, and include people of all abilities participating in sled dog sports.
Why is it important?
Research implications have indicated that the nearly inseparable bond existing between humans and canines, and the unique reciprocity that occurs between the two species while specifically engaging in mushing-based activities may play a powerful role in increasing well-being and quality of life across the domains of health; both for you AND your Super-Dogs. What do you perceive to be your own personal benefits derived from participation in sled dog sports? Why should anyone fortunate enough to live and be drawn to sled dog sports be prevented from such interaction, benefit, and inclusion?
How is it being accomplished?
Think Lacey Heward, and her dog team spitting a cloud of dust as they rip across North America with her high tech, seated dryland race rig; Taina Teras, leaving a rooster-tail of snow in your face from her customized sit sled as she and her hounds turn heads across Scandinavia; and how about Rachael Scdoris, the first person born legally blind to blaze her own trail to Nome. Of course, there are many more mushing pioneers; people refuting the status quo, the stigmas, the nay-sayers, and proving again and again that there are infinite ways to get from A to B.
Hopefully, this Q & A will bring about increased awareness and cultivate a broader discussion within our community as to how to increase inclusion within our sport, both recreationally and competitively. A welcoming and solutions-oriented perspective is usually all it takes for good ‘ol human ingenuity to take over; helping to overcome perceived challenges, and achieve what is truly possible. We hope you will bring your ideas to the table to help increase opportunity and further the advancement of the sport.
For more information and to get involved, please contact Benjamin Thompson or Russ Gregory.
Thank you and mush-on!