Forstal Siberian Huskies (established 1969)
At Forstal all our dogs are, first and foremost, much-loved pets and members of the family. They are also, of course, working sled dogs and many are shown too. They live together as a pack in large enclosures at our forest home and spend a lot of time with us indoors every day, where they ‘watch TV’ and ‘help’ us with our chores.
We train/work our dogs all year round, so long as conditions allow (in other words, so long as it is cool enough at first light, which is when we mostly go out training) and compete in races throughout the winter season. While in the past we competed with the SHCGB (Siberian Husky Club of GB) and BSDRA (British Sled Dog Racing Association, which is no longer active), frequently and with considerable success, nowadays we mainly compete at the highly competitive British Siberian Husky Racing Association (BSHRA) Championship series of events during the winter. At the time of writing, this series has been running for 24 years.
It has long been our priority to be as competitive as we can be in the B (6-dog) class, so for most racing seasons we will put our best dogs in this team. Our 6-dog team has won the overall Championship, the Gold Medal, for 14 seasons up to this date (on five occasions being driven by Brian Skilton, then, for seven consecutive seasons, being driven by Sally Leich; and most recently, in the 2016/17 season, Ali Koops drove the fast 6-dog team for the first time and was joint Gold Medal winner, then in 2019/20 she won the Gold Medal for her second time). We have had several Silver and Bronze Medals in this class as well over the years. We have also won Gold Medals in the C4 class. Ali has won this three times and Sally once, in the most recent 2019/20 season. We have several Silver and Bronze Medals in the C4 class as well. We have also won the C3 (3-dog) Championship a couple of times – Ali in the 2012/13 season and Sally in the 2006/7 season, – and have several Silver and Bronze medals in this class too. Normally however we run Veteran teams in the 3 dog class and sometimes in the 4 dog class as well. We have won the Veteran Championship (which is across all classes) nine times, with Sally driving the team six times and Ali three times. We always run at least one Veteran team and take great pride in these teams and both love running them. It is such a joy to see them enjoying their races just as much as when they were younger and we love the fact that the dogs are just as enthusiastic and hard working in their senior years as in their youth and prime. The only thing they lose to some extent is their top speed but they still have excellent drive, stamina and strength. It is a testament to their love of working and their sound metabolisms and constitutions.
Many of our Siberians really enjoy showing and have been very successful show dogs as well. We have had several Crufts Best of Breed wins and own, or have owned, many multiple CC winners and show champions. We were also the proud owners of the CC record holder in the breed for the UK, Ch Forstal Kaliznik, who is sadly no longer with us. He won 40 CCs and 23 Reserve CCs and also had two Working Group wins and several Group placings. (He is pictured, along with many of our other dogs, in the Dog World ‘Great Breeders’ feature by Simon Parsons. This article, written in 2009, covers some of the history of our Forstal Siberians up to and including 2008). We have also, over the years, bred a number of successful show dogs and Champions belonging to other people.