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why use a neckline?

People often wonder why using a collar-to-collar connection (neckline) when driving two dogs is essential. Quite a few mushers refuse to use it, thinking that it disturbs or restricts the dogs. To start the explanation, let's first dive into car mechanics, cars, trains, and their wheels.

When a wheeled vehicle is in motion and traveling straight, assuming all its wheels are the same size, the wheels will turn at the same rate (think what a mess it would be if they weren't). But there is another thing: cars have a "differential," a mechanism that allows the wheels to turn at different speeds while receiving equal power. This mechanism is necessary for turns because the outside wheel must cover more ground than the inside.

Trains face a similar problem with uniform wheels, but they have found another clever solution. Instead of complex axles like in cars, trains use cone-shaped wheels, which allow for smoother turns by enabling the outer wheel to turn slightly faster than the inner wheel. It's similar to how our outside leg steps a little further than the inside during a turn.

Crucially, wheels must synchronize when necessary and operate independently at other times, which presents one of the genius points in the design of modern wheeled vehicles.

Now let's move back to the dogs. Dogs are not only the engine in mushing; they are also the wheels. Unlike cars, every dog has its own speed dictated by the length of its legs, muscle strength, and determination. However, for an effective pull, they must synchronize their movements and produce uniformity in the movement of their legs.

The biggest kick for every musher is to watch the smooth coordination between the dogs—left right, left right, each pair trotting in perfect coordination, like skilled soldiers marching in an Independence Day ceremony. Like a well-oiled machine, each dog moves in sync, as if they are dancing together. This coordination is important for effective pulling, ensuring that the dogs are coordinated in pace and strength.

When dogs are harnessed together but not tied to each other, for example when they are attached to separate leashes while pulling a bicycle or a scooter, this synchronization is disrupted. Each dog acts independently, focusing solely on its own pace and speed, which leads to uneven traction and a significant waste of energy.

Imagine rowing a boat: when everyone rows together according to the rhythm given by the drummer in the back, progress is optimal; as they row at different speeds, efficiency decreases.

Using a neckline is not just a physical connection of the dogs; it is about fostering teamwork. The connection serves as a tangible reminder that each of the dogs is part of a group working towards a common goal. The neckline encourages a common rhythm, reduces the waste of energy, maximizes efficiency, and motivates the dogs to work harder and stay focused. This simple connection turns several individual dogs into a cohesive team, able to achieve the goal more efficiently and more easily. Not only does the neckline not interfere, it helps and makes it easier for the dogs.


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