Dates Of Events: Nov 12 & 13
Location: Little Lake Massabesic, Depot Rd, Auburn, NH (about an hour north of Boston and 30 minutes south of Concord, NH)
Cost: Free to attend, registration fees apply if you participate in the event
Parking: Ample parking was provided on the grounds and there are additional lots on Depot Rd
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Highlights: sled dog races
Web Sites: Ethan Howard Memorial Rig Race
Named after the late Ethan Viktor Howard, the Ethan Howard Memorial Rig Race is an 2 day annual dog racing event held in Auburn, New Hampshire. In addition to working for Manchester Water Works (which is located near the venue of the race), Howard was an avid sled dog musher and outdoor enthusiast.
The Ethan Howard full day racing event includes racing rigs of 2,4 and 6 dogs. There were also races with bicyclists and their dogs. The racing rigs raced first because of the weather conditions. The colder weather conditions, which are more evident in the morning, affect the cyclists more than it affects the rig racers. As the weather warms, it is easier for the cyclists to race.
Some of the rigs used for racing are shown below. Whips or any other devices are not used to encourage the dogs. Lead dogs respond to the vocal commands of the racer. Many of the racers encouraged their dogs with phrases of appreciation such as, “good girl/boy” and other chants.
I was able to photograph from the sides of the racing trails. But, with my telephoto lens, I was able to take a few photos while I stood on the trail and still had time to get out of everyone’s way.
Some of the dogs looked as though they were looking at me and mugging for the camera as they ran by.
Little Lake Massabesic is a wonderful park. The trails were pretty even with some slight inclines. It is perfect for runners, hikers and cyclists as well as the occasional sled dog racer. The distance of the trails for each race was different. But, they ranged from 1 to 3 miles.
You could see evidence of how hard the dogs were working on the trail.
Indie, the black and white spotted dog on the left, and Virgil, the brown and white marked dog on the right, were particpating in the race later that day. I thought the markings on Indie and the shape of Virgil’s ears were very striking.
There is a misconception about sled dogs and their guardians. It is one that I, too, used to think. Some people think the dogs are mistreated or abused. Nothing could be further from the truth. The guardians of these dogs love them as much as we love our pets. The dogs also enjoy racing and are bred and raised to race. Much like how a horse or human runner likes to compete and run, so do these dogs. And the connection between the dogs and guardians couldn’t be any more obvious.
Not all of the cute dogs I saw were competing in the races.
Theo is a 5 year old Wooly Husky.
Henry, a 15 month Husky, Pointer and Greyhound mix, was very excited to go to the race!
Lexie is an 8 month mixed breed. I think I see some Retriever in her.
A few more dogs I saw at the event.
Video of one of the 8 dog sled racing teams.