David moved to Alaska in 1977 from South Dakota. After working for the Alaska Railroad in Anchorage, as a king crab fisherman in Dutch Harbor, and working with the people of the remote Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, he turned his focus to mushing. In 1981, he joined forces with fellow musher, and future wife, Susan Butcher to train and race in the 1,000-mile Iditarod. Over the years, David and Susan built Trail Breaker Kennel into the premier racing kennel in the world. He participated in many races throughout his career, most notably winning the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest in 1988. For over 20 years, David has educated visitors from around the world as part of the Riverboat Discovery tour in Fairbanks. By welcoming guests to Trail Breaker Kennel, David has been able to share his incredible journey as a musher in one of the harshest environments in the world.
Tekla, David and Susan’s eldest daughter, was born and raised in Alaska. For many summers, she has welcomed guests who stop by Trail Breaker Kennel on the Riverboat Discovery tour. After graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a degree in Theater, Tekla spent a year in New York City doing scenic and costume design for theater. Tekla recently moved back to Fairbanks to work as the Creative Director at Trail Breaker, while also independently pursing her many artistic passions.
Tekla has been mushing since childhood. She remembers being taught how to drive her own one-dog team by Susan at the age of five. In 2006, at the age of 11, Tekla mushed 700 miles of the Iditarod trail with her own eight-dog team. The trip honored and celebrated her mother’s legacy on the Iditarod trail. Tekla, and her father, David, traveled with racers and visited villages that Susan has stopped at numerous times throughout her career. In 2012, Tekla repeated the trip when her sister Chisana turned 11. In 2021, Tekla participated in her first competitive sled dog race, a 200-mile race along the Denali Highway. Tekla plans to continue training the dogs at Trail Breaker Kennel for mid-distance races throughout the state of Alaska. Learn about Tekla’s plans for 2022, here.
Chisana, David and Susan’s youngest daughter, grew up in Fairbanks. She spent her childhood exploring Trail Breaker’s property and finding new ways to express her creativity. After graduating high school a year early, Chisana spent a semester studying in Nepal. In 2019, she began studying at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Vermont. With an emphasis on the Cyr wheel and aerial silks, she hopes to work toward a performance career in the circus arts. In the summers, Chisana travels back to Fairbanks to work with her family at Trail Breaker.
As a child, Chisana was taught how to mush by her mother and father. In 2012, at the age of 11, Chisana mushed 700 miles of the Iditarod trail with her own eight-dog team. Joined by her father and sister, she mushed along the trail honoring and celebrating her mother’s legacy.
Riley spent his first 18 years of his life in Farragut, Iowa, a town of 400 people. It was when he went to college in Leadville, CO, that he started working with sled dogs. After working as a winter tour guide in Colorado, Riley moved to Alaska in 2013 to expand his knowledge on mushing and sled dogs. In 2015, he opened Dark Horse Racing Kennel and now has 28 sled dogs, most of whom he has raised since birth or early puppyhood. He dedicates most of his time to running his kennel and taking care of his dogs, but enjoys practicing carpentry, working on cars, and hunting and fishing when the time allows. A veteran musher, Riley has competed in both 1,000-mile races in Alaska: the Iditarod and Yukon Quest. He has gained additional mushing experience by competing in the Two Rivers 200, Old Mail Trail 200, and Copper Basin 300.
In 2019, Riley joined the team at Trail Breaker Kennel. He is excited to represent Trail Breaker and the mushing community to thousands of guests each year, educating them about the sport of mushing and the rich history of the Alaskan husky. Riley plans to continue learning and improving in competitive mushing and hopes to field a team capable of finishing the Iditarod happy and healthy for years to come.
Luther was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He initially became interested in sled dogs when he had an Iditarod musher as his canoe guide at the age of 15. After traveling to Alaska at the age of 19, he bought his first dogsled and adopted two retired Iditarod dogs, Happy and Tsunami. Luther moved to Fairbanks in the fall of 2013 to pursue his mushing dreams. In 2016, he ran his first race, the Copper Basin 300, with a team of dogs he raised from puppyhood. During the winter months, Luther has helped train his friends’ race teams at Smokin’ Ace Kennel and Dark Horse Racing Kennel. He has since begun building his own kennel, Tsunami Sled Dogs. Luther joined the team at Trail Breaker Kennel in the spring of 2021.
Joe was raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Surrounded by his dad’s hunting dogs and the families’ horses, he developed a deep love for animals. After becoming interested in the sport of mushing in high school, he adopted a Siberian Husky after graduating. Soon after, he taught her how to pull his skateboard and bikejor. In 2017, he started mushing as a guide for a kennel in Colorado. In 2019 he made the move up to Alaska to work as a mushing guide for expeditions on the Mendenhall glacier. Since then, he has started mushing competitively, racing in the Solstice 100 and Ididn’trod 200. In the spring of 2021, Joe joined the team at Trail Breaker Kennel. He lives with his two huskies and hopes to start his own kennel to train a race team in the future.
Katrina grew up in Washington state and has always had a love for the outdoors. An avid mountaineer, Katrina frequented the trails of Washington. After attending Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, she decided to move up to Alaska in 2017 in search of fewer people and more wilderness to explore. Katrina joined the Trail Breaker Kennel team in the summer of 2018. During her time in Alaska, she has completed the Valley Finale dog sled race. Katrina lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her two Alaskan huskies while she continues handling and preparing for future sled dog races.
Kiana was raised in Galena, a small village on the Yukon River. She grew up mushing dogs with her parents at Borealis Kennel and ran her first one-dog race at the age of five. After watching her dad run the Iditarod, she knew she wanted to continue working with dogs and someday race a team of her own. At the age of 18, Kiana left Galena for Oregon, where she got her associate degree in Liberal Arts. She joined the Trail Breaker team for the 2020/2021 season, helping with tours and training a race team. In March of 2021, Kiana ran her first 200-mile race along-side Tekla. She is more that excited to continue learning from the dogs and exploring Alaska’s wilderness. Learn about Kiana’s plants for 2022, here
Alex was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. Growing up as the child of a tour guide, he has spent his life camping and exploring his desert home, learning to appreciate the desert’s flora, fauna, and diversity. This lifestyle inspired him to one day be a guide himself. That dream came true when, at the age of 17, he had the opportunity to work as a guide for slot canyon tours in Page, Arizona. Trading out the hot desert summer of Arizona, Alex traveled up to Alaska in 2020 and joined the team at Trail Breaker Kennel. Through his experiences working with the team at Trail Breaker, he has gained great respect for sled dogs and the sport of dog mushing.
Skye, born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, has always had an avid love for dogs and the great outdoors. When she joined the crew at Trail Breaker in 2019, she found the perfect spot to meld those two loves. Currently a rising senior at The Thacher School in Ojai, California, she spends her summers in Alaska doing her favorite things: hiking Angel Rocks, playing with the husky puppies at Trail Breaker, and staying up late to watch the midnight sun.