Ludovic Gloanec settled in the Giffre Valley 12 years ago. He is a professional musher who proposes dog-sled rides and introductory mushing sessions in winter, and dog-karting or dog-hiking excursions in summer. His 40-strong pack of dogs are high-level athletes who share his life 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This man leads a life of passion, a passion that he open-heartedly shares with us as he tells us about his sport from the Far North.
So what led Toulouse-born Ludovic to come here and become a musher? First of all, a decision to settle in the Alps in 1998, just because he loved the mountains. Then came a human and canine encounter that would change his life: he met a musher and his dogs. From then on his passion for dog-team sports grew. And his knowledge increased. Because being a musher is not just about taking people on sled rides. It’s also about taking care of the dogs who need to be raised, fed, looked after and trained like true athletes. After qualifying as a trainer in sled sports and associated disciplines, and as a youth sports instructor specialising in dog-sledding, he was all set to embark on his VERY OWN adventure, and to share it with us all. After falling in love with the valley, he settled in Mieussy and established his kennels here.
So that’s the genesis, what happened next?
“I forged ahead, just like my dogs when they pull us along on a blissful ride”, confides Ludovic.
Les Traineaux de l’Ubac was born. “Ubac” was the name of his very first dog, a female Siberian Husky. Since then, Cusco, Merlin, Shapka, Sérac, Futé, Looping, Baracuda and other dogs have joined the family, “the pack”, not forgetting Mayo, Ketchup, Togo and Agy, the puppies that Ludovic invites visitors to spend time with. Because social contact is good for these young dogs who will later put their powerful energy at the service of would-be mushers who come for a day’s training.
But also because Ludovic attaches great importance to his dogs’ behaviour.
“They are each individuals with their own characteristic bark and unique facial markings. Despite their similarities, they each have their place within the pack hierarchy. You’ll learn about their way of life and their roles within the dog team. It’s all based on codes and pecking order.”
And a musher doesn’t spend his life on the sled! Welcome behind the scenes! At 7am, Ludovic takes care of his accomplices in the noblest of manners, because “Life has to revolve around the dogs, not the other way round,” he says. After a day’s work in the mountains, in Agy to be precise, they return to the kennels at about 6pm. The athletes then get 3 hours of care and attention, play and rest, and he often shares these moments with his 8-year-old daughter.
Sharing and passing on
For the curious by nature, Ludovic enjoys sharing his passion for sled dogs and this sport that offers novices a taste of adventure Far-North-style. For 3 years he helped to organise the children’s Odyssée race, an event for budding mushers and a project conducted with secondary-school pupils from the Giffre Valley.
In winter, his introductory mushing sessions are already fully booked from November. He also takes adventure seekers out on 48-hour long-distance excursions to bivouac in the wilderness for a total immersion in the life of a musher, a micro adventure where the emphasis is on the human dimension!
And does Ludovic take holidays? “My holidays are when I glide along on my sled, before the visitors arrive. I never get tired of running the dogs every day, I’m fascinated by the way they love following “dad”.” The last precious secret confided by a happy man.
Interview by Laure Béchade, journalist
Photo by Gérard Gachignard