NORWAY — Robert’s Farm Preserve in Norway went to the dogs Sunday afternoon.Geoff Shallard, a skijoring expert from Yarmouth, taught six yelping dogs — and their owners — the basics of skijoring.

Derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring, meaning ski driving, skijoring is cross-country skiing while attached by a 12-foot cord to one or two harnessed dogs. Skiers can also be pulled by a horse or a motor vehicle.

Shallard said on a good run, his standard poodles Brodie, 13 months old,  and Piper, 12 years old, can get going up to 20 mph.

“The dogs tend to love it,” Shallard said.

Once the upfront costs of the harness and cord are out of the way, skijoring becomes a fun winter activity for those who know cross-country skiing.

“Skijoring becomes a family, low-cost operation,” Shallard said. “I go once a year in Errol, New Hampshire, on a section of snowmobile trails. It’s great terrain.”

Unlike dog sledding, where the animals do most of the work, the impetus to move lies with the skiers. While the dogs provide some momentum, skiers must do most of the work.

Shallard said skijoring is a balancing act. A distracted dog that stops suddenly could lead to a crash, and a skier who does not maintain a suitable distance could ram into the skier in front of him or her.

Roo, an almost 2-year-old malamute-husky mix, was “born for skijoring.” According to her owner, Mac Menezes of Harrison, the pup had been skijoring a few times prior to Sunday.

“Roo has a lot of power,” Menezes said.

Winston, a beige dog, had never been skijoring before, his owner, Marie Ralff, said.

Winston had bikejored previously, a similar activity where a dog pulls an owner while attached to a bike, but had never pulled a skier.

“I’m not quite sure how it’s going to go,” Ralff said. “But we’re going to find out.”

Out on the practice trail, once Shallard outlined how to get started, the dogs took off. Roo raced around the clearing, towing Mendez behind, and Winston, a bit more subdued, managed to make his way around the track.

The clinic, followed by a “fun run” later in the afternoon, was part of the 2019 Norway Winter Carnival, a nine-day series of events sponsored by the Western Foothills Land Trust.

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