Mushing: the pet-sport connection grows in Mexico

The connection between a human and their pet can also win world championships. This is the case in the discipline of mushing, a sport of racing with dogs that has official global validity and that in Mexico is building its history with little more than a decade of organization.

Mushing emerged as a sport almost 100 years ago and even had an exhibition participation in the Olympic Games in 1932. Its origins were in icy areas of the world such as the Nordic countries and Alaska, where humans were transported on sleds pulled by dogs; Over time, variants have been added for countries where there is no snow, such as canicross, which consists of races in mountains or dirt roads guided by dogs.

It is there where Mexico competes and also in the branch of bikejöring, which is a form of cross-country cycling tied to the dog. The first club that laid the foundations for this sport in the country was Urban Mushing Querétaro in 2009, who consulted with practitioners from Spain, Italy, and the United States (Alaska) to give the project seriousness.

“In Europe it has been practiced as a sport for more than 25 years, in some countries it is recognized for its sports commissions in snow sports and in Mexico we are still in its infancy. We have 13 clubs from different places, the largest teams are in Querétaro, Guadalajara, Puebla, León and Monterrey, which has grown a lot in one year ”, describes Carmen Rocha, president of the Mexican Federation of Mushing and Shooting Dogs.

Mushing has two aspects: sports competition and recreation, since there are several people who only want to participate to be part of a club and generate a better coexistence with their dogs, says Carmen Rocha, unlike others who do want to raise their level. athletic physique and compete in the world championships that are held every two years in Europe.

For both modalities, an initial investment of between 1,600 and 4,000 pesos is required to be armed with basic accessories such as a harness, bib, shock absorber and a special belt. In addition, anyone and any dog ​​can participate, as there are no physical specifications and the categories are open from eight years of age.

What are the benefits of mushing?

“Physically, we become very healthy and active people, something very important because we continue to be one of the countries with the highest obesity and diabetes. There are clubs that are very competitive but we all have a family approach, where young children come. The general principle is that we have healthy, active people, who little by little integrate, not everyone runs, but little by little those people begin to overcome themselves, they generate a synergy that is contagious. We handle seasons of hiking and obedience exercises with which you continue to generate benefits for healthy people and help control the dog’s hyperactivity, socialization, physical and mental training. In the end they are better people and better pets. We do not usually have sickly people, we keep them away from certain vices and it is an activity that forces you to get up early to train with the dog before the temperature rises to more than 22 degrees, which is recommended by the international federations ”, says Rocha.

According to its latest registry, Mexico has a total of 210 members of the Mushing Federation, a number still distant from countries like France, where there are more than 3,000. The first Mexican participation in a World Cup took place in Belgium 2019 and a representative (Ulises Muñoz) managed to be number 30 out of 70. For 2022, the competition will be held from April 28 to May 1 in Germany and the idea is to put more than one Mexican in the top 20.

What is the short-term goal of mushing in Mexico?

“In the sports part, that more and more Mexican mushers (runners) can improve their rhythms (running speed) to enter the 20 best in the world until they have a world champion. We want to close this year with 300 members in the Federation, understanding that not everyone sees sport competitively, but it leaves you complicity with your pet, understanding, joy, the dog is born to run and the fact that you can run with it generates a very complicity. big”.

Another limitation that mushing has in Mexico, so far, is that its Federation has not yet been recognized by Conade or Codeme, which prevents growth in economic resources. In 2017 they were formed as a civil association and in 2021 as a federation, but they are bidding to receive the endorsement of national sports organizations within a maximum period of 2024.

“At this moment all the resource comes from the contributions of the members, which are a little more than 200 at the national level, but since it is already a federation endorsed by Conade and Codeme we could seek support in a simpler way, we would be entitled to certain support ( economic) that the government gives to the sport, since suddenly the selected ones have to look for support to be able to make the trips ”, comments the president, while a trip to Europe for a single athlete and his dog can cost up to 50,000 pesos.

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