The Fan Hitch Volume 7, Number 4, September 2005

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International

In This Issue...

Editorial: Building Bridges
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F.I.D.O.: Marit Holm
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Nunavik Dog Slaughters, Part III
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Greenland Dog / Inuit Dog, The Same Dog
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Differences in Mushing: Greenland and Arctic Canada, Part I
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Fan Mail
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Behavior Notebook: The Human Role
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Book Review: Frozen Horizons
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Product Review: Wheel Dog Harness
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Tip for the Trail: Pack a Pruning Saw
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 IMHO: The System
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Annual Index for Volume 7


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Our comprehensive list of resources

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Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.

Print subscriptions: in Canada $20.00, in USA $23.00, elsewhere $32.00 per year, postage included. All prices are in Canadian dollars. Make checks payable in Canadian dollars only to "Mark Brazeau", and send to Mark Brazeau, Box 151 Kangiqsualujjuaq QC J0M 1N0 Canada. (Back issues are also available. Contact Sue Hamilton.)


The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.


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The Inuit Sled Dog International

The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0; gmontcombroux@gmail.com
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, mail@thefanhitch.org
A Visualization of Differences Between Greenland and Canadian Mushing, Part 1

by Sue Hamilton

Folks generally understand the difference in configuration between the tandem 'Nome-style' hitch and a fan hitch. But many may not know that the Greenlandic and arctic Canadian fan hitches are distinctly different. In Greenland majority of the traces are of equal length, while one to perhaps four are longer but still of equal length to each other. In Canada, the tugs vary considerably in length with only one the longest.

Canadian-style fan hitch

Only one lead dog, with the decorated harness

Greenlandic-style fan hitch

Note there are four lead dogs

How the traces attach to the sled differs as well.  In Greenland, each tug line has a knot at its end. Ends of the traces are bunched together, then the musher loops the sled's bridle around those bundled traces to secure the team to the sled. The loop can be easily undone to untangle the "braid" that is created as dogs change places within the team (which restricts freedom of movement), but not so easily undone that when the dogs stop the connection unravels on its own. The arctic Canadian bridle is a little more elaborate, yet also with no moving parts or clasps. Each tug has a sewn loop at one end and a fastening ring at the other. The loop end attaches to a toggle sewn into the back of the harness while the bridle line passes through the fastening ring at the other end of the tug and then is secured to itself with another toggle and loop. In the old days toggles and rings were made out of bone and or ivory. Today they are fashioned out of left over pieces of the same thick plastic used on the bottom of the sled runners, and they still incorporate the advantage of no moving parts to break or fail. (See "Raising Sled Dogs" The Fan Hitch, August 2000, V2, N4 )

Canadian-style bridle

Greenlandic-style bridle

Greenlandic and Canadian sleds exhibit a number of differences, too. Although both are similarly constructed of thick dimensional lumber (I have also seen one with aluminum runners) to withstand punishing conditions, the Greenland sled has what we "woodland mushers" would refer to as a "driver's bow", only occasionally seen on Canadian qamutiit. Greenlanders can stand on the extremely short runner extensions while holding on to the upright section, to help steer and to literally dig in their heels as a way to slow down. There is no mechanical brake of any kind. Sometimes, the Greenland sleds are brightly painted (as seen in this issue's F.I.D.O.). The average sled length in Greenland is shorter than the average length found in arctic Canada, although size varies with purpose.

Canadian-style qamutiq

Note the aluminum runners

Greenlandic-style qamutiq

This sled is smaller and not as heavily loaded as the one above
because the travelers are staying in wooden  huts and therefore
don’t need to carry as much gear           All photos: Hamilton

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