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 Meet Kent Allen
Long Time Sprint Musher & Official
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Name:
Kennel:
Birthplace:
Home Town:
Occupation:
Kent Allen
Goshawk Race Kennel
Denver Colorado
Hot Sulphur Springs, CO
Training Coordinator for Cyprus Mining Co.

Kent Allen

Introduction

I became involved in sled dog sports in 1971, when my wife Pam decided she wanted to raise either a baseball team or a sled dog team. I bought her a Siberian Husky that afternoon.

We became aquatinted with Nancy Black, a local musher and a very colorful personality, and she convinced me to help her train her Siberian team.

My first time ever on a sled was a terrifying ride off a steep mountain with a 16 dog team. Nothing I had ever done before matched the rush of that first ride and I was hooked.

I started sprint racing in 1972 and raced Siberians for about 10 years. The Alaskan dogs were first being introduced into the Rocky Mt. Region in the late 70’s and Pam and I decided we wanted to raise some of that breed and expand our kennel.

I was becoming involved with ISDRA on a local level an in the early 80’s ran for regional director. I became very involved in the RMSDC and was in the middle of sled dog politics for about 15 years. During that time I met many of the sports great mushers and learned a great deal about what a wonderful athlete the sled dog truly was. I am a past President of ISDRA , President of USSDSF, long time officer and board member of the RMSDC as well as a 25 year board member of the Middle Park Mushers of Grand County Colorado.

I have officiated events in the lower 48, Canada and Europe. Currently Pam and I have a 18 dog kennel of Alaskans and enjoy sprint racing 8 or 9 events in the Western US and Canada. I have seen the sport develop, as well as the dogs, for almost 30 years and am still as excited about it today as I was when I took my first breathtaking ride on a sled.

Background

What is your primary sled dog activity or area of interest?
Sprint racing Alaskan Huskies

How long have you been involved with sled dogs?
Since 1971

What sparked your initial interest in sled dogs?
See above

If you remember your very first time behind a team of dogs, tell us about it.
See above

Who have been your mentors?
There have been so many to learn from I can hardly point to one individual.

Kennel Management

What size kennel do you operate?
18 dogs

What type of tether/bowl system do you use?
L stake in a 2" pipe with 8’ stake-out chains

I use 55 gal. Plastic barrels bedded with straw for kennels.

What are the most important considerations in housing sled dogs?
Clean, warm, dry, safe space.

Give us an overview of your feeding program.
I use a primary dry kibble and supplement with Energy Pac in the summer and add meat in the fall and through out racing season.

Summarize your basic kennel management style.
Males and Females on opposite sides of the kennel. Kennel enclosed in a large compound fence. Keep a good routine of feeding, cleaning and playing every day.

The Dogs

What breed(s) do you work with?
Alaskans

What physical characteristics do you look for in your dogs?
Well balanced structurally, light quick step, good angle on front end, naturally muscled.

What mental or emotional attributes do you require in your dogs?
Happy, strong headed, yet sensitive to any mood of mine.

Tell us about an all time favorite dog or two.
North, from Doug McRae of Wisconsin has to be one of my favorites. He will be 20 this spring and raced every race we entered until he was 18. I bought him as a 7 year old leader off of an open team and he has helped train every leader I have for many years. He always wanted to start and always finished faster than he went out. Very egotistical wet kind and gentle male.

Puppies

What criteria do you use for selecting breeding stock?
We do very little breeding but I have excellent young dogs from a few very good friends in Colorado and Minnesota

Do you use any pre-training evaluation of puppies?
Yes, that’s a whole story in itself

What method do you use for starting pups?
Play with them with harness and use older dogs to help them start. Typically my pups start naturally and I need to focus their enthusiasm in the right direction.

What is the most important thing you look for in a young dog?
Attitude and build. If he or she isn’t built for speed they're never going to make the top team.

At what point do you decide a youngster is likely to make it in your team?
18 months to 2 years.

Training

What is the training/racing philosophy of your kennel?
Start with slow muscle toning and short mileage and work up to the distance they will race after 100 miles or so of short work. I usually go 10 hook ups at each distance working up. Never let the dogs run wide open on dirt and only after they are in top shape on snow. Never ask a dog to do something that they are not physically capable of or have not been trained to do.

Do you have specific training goals for your team(s)?
Yes we set milestone in training based on the first race and when we want them to peak.

What do you consider most important to accomplish in training?
A good foundation through a lot of hook ups and, of course, miles. Every run has to have a pre-established purpose. It is in training where the dogs learn how to race not on the race coarse.

What is the most indispensable training equipment you use?
Brains, mine as well as the dogs. Think ahead - always - to keep from having a bad training experience for the dogs.  One disastrous run can damage an entire season.

Racing

How do you choose which races to enter?
They must be sanctioned and I need to know they have good safe trails.

What are your strengths as a racer?
I don’t take myself too seriously and I always let the dogs determine the pace going out, I only ask them to run my speed when I call them up to go home. I never cheat the dogs.

What do you consider your weaknesses, if any?
My size is a disadvantage--I weigh over 200 pounds.

Do you having a mushing career goal?
Every year it changes with the kennel. As an overall career I have met my goal: I have met some of the best people in the world and seen and owned some of the best dogs.

What does it take to win?
Training

The Future

What is your vision of the future of sled dog sports?
The sport will never be huge--it has it’s place in the scheme of things.  But the sport needs to concentrate on being the best it can be given it’s limitations.

What can individual mushers do to support and promote the sport?
Take care of their dogs and themselves and keep a clean healthy well trained dog team

What part do clubs and organizations play in sport development?
That is where the sport lives. The organizations need to work together to promote the sport and share the responsibility of caring for the sponsors.

What advice would you give a beginning musher?
Find a good, well cared for kennel and learn as much as they can. Don’t be afraid to ask and listen when they don’t know.

Anecdote

Tell us about one or two of your most memorable sled dog experiences.
One was a ride on the railroad tracks with an 8 dog team in front of a passenger train. And that story would take about 2 pages and a 6 pack of beer. And my trips to the World Championships with the IFSS as an official.

Comments

Any final comments about sled dog sports?
Keep on Mushin!

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