| Tackling hills in drafting is serious business. While it seems like a simple task, taking a dog up or down a hill in a cart can pose many risks.|
To protect against these problems, hills should always be tacked. This concept is not new nor is used only in dog drafting. The concept of tacking, sometimes called switchbacks, is used in sailing, windsurfing, biking, skating, and driving. In sailing and windsurfing, the operator sails or surfs at an angle towards the wind, not directly towards it. In biking, skating, or driving, it is easiest to go up a hill at 45 degree angles instead of dead up the hill. That method reduces the steepness of the hill and makes it easier to go up or town. If you want to test this theory, just grab a pair of skates and try to go straight up or down a steep hill. Make sure you wear a helmet and protective gear first. You'll quickly learn that you can bleed off speed by tacking down the hill or ease the steepness by tacking up the hill. In driving, cars with short clearances that need to make it up or down a steep incline should approach at an angle either way. Here's some photos to illustrate the concept.
If you're familiar with Lombard Street, here's a photo of cars tacking down this 27% grade hill. Read more details here.
Tacking a hill (up or down) is pretty self-explanatory and straight forward. You traverse a hill by going up diagonally at a comfortable angle. You will be traveling more distance to go up the hill, and it will be at a less steep slope. More importantly, it will be safer! I also go up curbs and small hills with my own dogs at angles. When leaving your harnessed and hitched dog or cart (without the dog) on a hill, make sure that they are positioned perpendicular to the hill. You don't want the cart or dog to be overcome by the weight of the cart when on a steep hill to cause a runaway.
Here's a photos of some cars parked perpendicular to the slope (correct). If you don't do this in San Francisco on some extremely steep hills, you'll have some runaway cars.
Lessons in working your dog in Carting with your Dog