Snowpaw Sponsors Oatfield Huskies AB by Ben Wagstaff
Oatfield Huskies are super excited to announce that we will be sponsored by snowpawstore for the foreseeable future! SnowPaw Store was the company, when returning to the UK from Lapland, that I purchased my first ever gangline from, to now be working alongside them and promoting the excellent equipment that they provide feels absolutely perfect!
Read on to learn more about us and our Kennel…
What is Oatfield Huskies AB?
Oatfield Huskies AB is sleddog kennel located in Swedish Lapland. The kennel has been founded as a tourist business to share our passion of sleddogs with guests and to compete with our best friends out on the trail doing what we all love the most.
First and foremost tell us about the dogs!
So here at Oatfield huskies, we currently have 23 dogs in training, these being between 18 months to 8 years old. The majority of the dogs are Alaskan huskies but we do have some Siberian Huskies also. We have bought a few older dogs who teach us and the pups more on a daily basis than we can teach them! We have bought some puppies from fantastic distance lines like Tomas Waerner, Mats Pettersson and just last week imported two puppies from Brenda Mackey in Alaska. We hope that these dogs will be a great starting block and foundation in our kennel for the future! We are having so much fun training them, along with them training us of course on how things should be run! We are all working hard together towards our goals. Whether that be taking out tourists on amazing tours through the forests, over frozen lakes and into the mountains or working hard to secure a regular position in our race team for the upcoming season! We also have puppies and young dogs which of course take a lot of time and energy, we free run all our pups in the forest around our basecamp, we try to learn them as much as possible of being out in the wild including crossing water, swamps and wild animals amongst other obstacles that they will certain face on the trail in the future as they develop into race dogs. We could go on… and certainly will in future posts & hope to cover all topics!
The faces behind the kennel…
Where did it start for you Naomi?
Naomi 28 years old originally from the Netherlands.
As a young girl, I watched the Iditarod and every sleddog movie that you can think of and more, Then I watched them again! From such a young age, I was fascinated with sleddogs, cold climates and extreme winter sports. It was always a dream of mine to have my own sleddog. When I was 15, I bought my first Siberian husky (Zoy). Zoy was a rehomed dog and grew to gain several nicknames from my family, but that is for a later story. Zoy destroyed my parents’ house along with any belongings that he could get his paws or teeth on & to say the least got us both into quite some trouble.
It all began from there… Zoy started pulling me on my bicycle and we would be out in the forest literally every free hour that I had.
I heard about a sleddog kennel close to where I lived and decided to contact them and see if they could maybe help or advise how I should continue to learn with this energetic dog! After being at their kennel for the first time, I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I became their handler for the next 7 years. Within those amazing and educational years, I dreamt of the snow and a real sled! It was amazing to drive dryland in both training and competitions; however, those films and the Iditarod videos were still screaming out at me from the far back of my mind.
In 2015, I started a new chapter in Swedish Lapland. I have been a handler in this time for both Siberian and Alaskan husky kennels whilst putting together my own small team of Siberian huskies. I started competing in sprint races both dryland and on snow. The more time I spent doing this the more I confirmed to myself that there was nothing more that I wanted to do with my life!
Fast forward a few years and I met Ben, an English guy living in Sweden with some Alaskan Huskies. To say that this was something I did not see coming is an understatement, that goes for an English guy and the Alaskan Huskies! It is amazing to start our journey together and share a lifestyle that our dogs and we thrive in!
Ben 32 originally from the UK
I have been brought up around dogs all my life. In 2008, I took the chance of a handler position at Axehandle Mountain in the north of Sweden. A kennel with just shy of 100 amazing Siberian Huskies. At 19, I packed up my terribly equipped Landover & drove, searching for the first sight of snow at every mile that clicked through the dodgy clocks on the dashboard. The drive in itself was fun but that is certainly a story in itself. At Axehandle Mountain, I realized fast that this was what I wanted. I learnt so so much about dogs, tourists and myself. I can never pay Graham and Elizabeth back for this no matter what!
After some years back in the UK, the time came to take the gamble on buying a place in Sweden with the plan of starting to set up a tourist company for myself and live the dream life that I had longed for in the snow with my dogs! After a few difficult years of setbacks in setting up a kennel whilst renovating my house and enjoying my new love of Alaskan huskies I met Naomi. We both have the same dream, ambition and vision to build the best team of dogs with all the fun that our athletes and our team can handle on the way!
So how has the early stages of Oatfield huskies been and how do you envision the future?
We started the business Oatfield huskies a year ago officially. The name is truly important and was inspired by a very good dog man by the name of Brian Hall. We will write a blog on this in the future, as we will share the blunt and honest opinions of this somewhat legend to those who knew him.
After purchasing the old farm, we have worked like crazy to build and create the best facilities for our dogs and guests. The place is located in Lapland in Sweden, an isolated area which is of course great for random 2am singalong howls! We have trails directly from the yard, which we have to make with a snow mover and maintain ourselves that has been a laugh to say the least!
Our dogs have more than enough kennel space as well as an amazing play yard and receive the absolute best care that we can give them. The time that goes into the dogs is crazy, it literally never stops here! A normal winter day starts around 5am and we normally manage to hit the pillow around midnight but we certainly are not complaining, it is tiring but we could not think of a better place to be. This long routine involves several feeding times with soup, what seems like hours of putting on and changing out dog boots, foot care, massaging & of course lots of hours actually on the trail training. For us they are not just dogs, they are what we have always dreamed of they are our work, social life and our teammates and so much more all in one. We all learn together more by the day. We look forward to the coming winter having fun together with tourists and competing in long distance sleddog races.
This year we will hopefully compete in a few distance races with our main competition being the Beaver Trap Trail at the end of March. This of course we hope to build on. These races are difficult and take years of skill and experience on running dogs. The trail is long, we aspire to follow our dreams and continue having fun with our crazy furry friends!
We are looking forward to sharing our adventures and stories with you all, from our long long journey on becoming a distance sleddog team.
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions please comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.