Newfoundland Club of America Draft Equipment Guide - Approved 2001
Apparatus for Use on Snow (Pulks, Sleds, Toboggans)
The varieties of apparatus that can be used on snow all- have the common trait of sliding directly on the surface, either on runners or on the bottom. Some may use shafts; others are pulled by a trace attached directly to the apparatus. Balance of a load on snow apparatus is not crucial since the weight of the load is down very low or directly on the ground. A load should be carefully secured, however, because placement of the load may affect pivot point and maneverability. Sleds, toboggans and pulks can usually carry a good-sized load, but due to the friction with the ground, a dog must work harder to start the load. For this reason, the weight required for a draft test is less, than that required for carts and wagons. They also generally require more space to turn than wheeled apparatus. Because traces for snow apparatus are often long, a handler must be particularly aware that the dog does not start hauling with the traces tangled with a foot, or with traces positioned improperly.
A sled is an apparatus that has runners to elevate the bed of the apparatus, and works best on ice or hard packed snow; it does not work well in deep or fluffy snow. They include classic dogsleds and conventional children's sleds. A trace connects the dog I s harness to the bed of the sled. Because a sled does not have shafts, the dog cannot stop. the sled's forward motion. Stopping a sled must be accomplished by a foot or hand brake operated by the handler (as on a dogsled) or by a line attached to the back which can be held by the handler. Uphill or rough snow conditions may work to set-brake a sled, but a handler must always be aware and responsible for stopping the sled before it hits the dog, Traces are usually longer for sleds than for' carts or wagons in order to allow space for the sled to be stopped before hitting the dog. A dog cannot make a sled move backward; backward motion must be accomplished by the handler with the cooperation of the dog backing to slacken its trace.
A toboggan is an apparatus that has a curved front and a flat bed that rides directly on the snow. It works well on ice or hardpacked snow, and can also work reasonably well in deep or fluffy snow. Like a sled, it does not have shafts, so attachment of traces to the dog is the same as for a sled. A toboggan does not have a hand or foot brake like some sleds, so braking must be done through the use of a line attached to the back and held by a handler. When using a toboggan in deep or fluffy snow, the snow frequently brakes the apparatus. Toboggans are excellent for hauling significant loads in snow.
A pulk is an apparatus with a flat bottom that rides directly on the snow, but with curved edges that give it the shape of a very shallow 'boat'. Some pulks have shallow runners on the bottom. Because of its shape and the shallow runners, a pulk works very well in most kinds of snow. Pulks usually have shafts, but can also be used very efficiently with the shafts removed. Using a pulk with the shafts attached gives the advantage of heightened stability and prevention of sidestepping on slopes and the ability of the dog to brake the pulk, but adds the disadvantage of needing a large turning radius. Using a pulk with the shafts removed gives the advantage of greater maneuverability but does not allow for the dog to brake the pulk. Without shafts, a pulk is attached to a trace and is braked like a toboggan.
When a pulk does have shafts, the position of the shafts is not as critical as on a cart, since there is no weight from the load on the shafts. Shafts can rise from the pulk at a gradual angle to the side of the dog, or they can rise at an angle, then bend to run parallel to the ground along the side of the dog. The traces or singletree of the harness can attach at ground level to the front of the pulk or to a raised section between the shafts, if using shafts with a bend.