RSH Racing Editor:
First, would you please define what you mean in your book by basic pace
Jim Welch: Though basic pace is trained into dogs, the
term "basic pace training" is a little misleading. No matter what kind of
training you use, your dogs will develop a basic pace: fast, slow or in-between.
What I mean by "basic pace" is that speed a dog team will
travel on its own, with no help, urging or commands from the driver. This is the speed the
dogs settle into after the initial starting burst.
Training dogs to have a certain basic pace can include a host of
training methods, including slow heavy pulling, interval training, or steady fast runs. It
does not demand one exclusive method. In fact, training dogs to have a certain basic pace
is an end goal, not a particular method at all.
"Training dogs to
have a certain basic pace can include a host of training methods...."
Interval training, for example, is not the antithesis of "basic
pace training." You train dogs to have a basic pace. This is not the only pace they
have (hopefully), nor is it necessarily achieved by always traveling at that steady basic
pace. Interval training can well be incorporated into a training program that also wants
to pay attention to basic pace.
As you condition dogs for any length of time, they come to have a basic
pace. By manipulating different factors, a trainer can influence what that basic pace will
be. The speed level of a basic pace results from the combined influence of many factors.
Among the most important are:
1. Genetics -- A dog cannot go faster than he is physically
endowed (both in conformation and metabolism). And although the basic pace is never the
dog's fastest possible speed, if you conceptualize the basic pace as a percentage of the
dog's top speed, it is easy to see that it is easier to have and to hold a faster basic
pace if your best possible speed is greater to start with.
This is the advantage for the genetically gifted dog and the driver
fortunate enough to own it. You can try to compensate by manipulation of the following
factors, but only to a point. You cannot go faster than the limits of the raw material
with which you start.
2. Health and nutrition -- A less than perfectly healthy, optimally
nourished dog will not perform as well, as easily nor as fast as a healthier, better fed
3. Physical condition -- as fundamentally obvious as it may seem, too
many dog drivers ignore how much more easily a well conditioned athlete can run fast, run
far and maintain a higher basic pace than an under-conditioned team can. Think of the
times when you yourself were in poor physical shape and the effort and difficulty it took
to accomplish the same task that was easily done when you were in good shape.
4. Training -- A driver can influence the basic pace of his team in
training by manipulating several factors, including size of team, distance of training
runs, frequency of training runs, the load the team is pulling, position of dogs within
the team, and so on.