Monday, October 24, 2011

Sandpoint Idaho

I did not realize it, but this year was the first for Sandpoint to have ski joring at its Winter Carnival January 15-16, 2011. From the sounds of it, it went well!
Matt Smart of Mountain Horse Adventures, who acted as event organizer, assisted me with my research for my post Keep Ski Joring Alive!  About Sandpoint's 2011 Winter Carnival, Smart said, "The general vibe from the crowd was, it was much more exciting then they imagined. And many said they'll compete next year." That sounds like a good report!

Welcome to the sport of Ski Joring Sandpoint!
I hope 2012 will be bigger and better!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I realize that it has been over five months since I last posted. Although this - maintaining this blog - was a class assignment and the class is over, I have thought several time about updating it. Several farriers and athletes responded with their thoughts or knowledge after I completed the assignments -- too late to be included in the pieces. Even so, I aim to post them up here soon!

Driving home from school this past summer, my dad and I passed through Leadville, Colorado! I was so excited. It was beautiful! Since my dad picked the route we drove, I didn't realize we would pass through until we were approaching Leadville. Even though we didn't stop, we drove through an area with a long standing skijoring tradition - one of the oldest skijoring traditions! That made me happy. Now I want to go back!

The water looked frozen!

One mile outside of Leadville!

Breckenridge, I think?
Leadville's ski joring takes place in March - so start planning now!
Start planning for March 3rd and 4th in 2012!

If you want to know what happens in Leadville off-skijoring season here is a tourism site that looks pretty informative and has some pretty pictures.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Retirement Options...

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
~ Cecil Frances Alexander

Standing along the fence at the Asbury Equine Center I watched as Diamond, the senior horse I adopted through the Asbury University's Adopt a Horse program, ambled away, pausing here and there to grab a bite of grass. He used to be a child's show horse and then a lesson pony, but a few years back, he decided to retire. When you can't keep a rider on an old horse, you get the idea he has had enough. For him, retirement means living his last days out in the pasture, coming up to the barn only to be fed, groomed, and occasionally stalled in bad weather. No more girths tightening around his middle. No more cold metal bits eased behind his teeth. No more bratty children on his back. For him, retirement means living like a horse and being cared for like a pet. Now leaning against the rough black fence, I began to think about horses in Kentucky.

Kentucky is known for its horses and its equine industry—the world round. The first Saturday in May kicks off the start of the Triple Crown races right in Louisville with the Kentucky Derby. Across the country television viewers tune in to watch, the fast, the sleek, the beautiful Thoroughbred horses run. It inspires those who are not even partial to the animal. The World Equestrian Games were held in Lexington last year. Not only was Lexington honored as the host city, HRH Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, the FEI President, highly praised Kentucky and its equine industry. Considering its self the horse capital of the world, Kentucky is proud of its horses. However, these events and circumstances focus on useful, healthy horses.

What options are available in Kentucky and around Jessamine County for horses when they are no longer useful to their owners?

For sure, two simple and relatively cheap options exist. One option is euthanasia. Sometimes referred to as mercy killing, it is the act of killing of an animal. When an animal has an untreatable injury or is suffering, or if the owner cannot afford treatment, some feel euthanasia is the best option. Another option is the slaughterhouse. While since 2007 no longer do slaughterhouses exist for horses here in the United States, they exist just outside the borders in Mexico and Canada. In other parts of the world, horsemeat is eaten like beef or pork. To other cultures it is simply meat.

Here in Kentucky, people feel differently. In fact, some people feel very strongly that those first two options should not be options at all. When horses are no longer useful or wanted, or when treatment is unaffordable, they should not simply be put down. Some of these people have made great efforts to make other options available for Kentucky's beloved animal.

"It is a difficult economic time and horse owners are feeling it," said Robin Murray from the Public Relations office at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington. "Unwanted horses are a problem no matter the breed. They have always been a working companion—ranch work, racing—we’ve always had them because they have a job to do." As Murray points out, if people cannot keep them or sell them – it is a very complex thing. There are shelters, but not as many as dog and cat shelters, and that is very difficult for horses.

At Rood & Riddle, employees have taken initiative to raise support for at least one center, the Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Nicholasville. Last year, employees bought discounted gift certificates from the hospital pharmacy and then donated them to the Center. In effort to support several charities, over the last seven years Rood & Riddle has sponsored Hats Off to Kentucky’s Horse Industry Day at the Kentucky Horse Park each summer. As Murray said, "It is a big horse day to celebrate the horse and raise money for horse charities."

Beyond employee initiatives, and the annual Hats Off Kentucky event, Rood & Riddle has recently begun awarding the Rood & Riddle Thoroughbred Sport Horse of the Year Award. On the Rood & Riddle website Tom Riddle, DVM, says, "Through this award, we hope to decrease the number of unwanted horses in the U.S. by demonstrating [Thoroughbreds] value in these non-racing disciplines.” They hope this award will help make people aware that racehorse Thoroughbreds can have second careers.

Sheila Woerth, Kentucky Dressage Association Show Chairman, said, "We feel horses shouldn't go to the slaughter house.” She explained that the KDA, like Rood & Riddle, chose to support the KyEHC because they are a rescue organization that gives the horse, like the Thoroughbred track horse, a chance at a second career. "They are given a second life," she said. Because of this opportunity at a second life, the KDA gives charitable donations to the KyEHC.

"I approached another horse rescue organization and it's bazaar, they didn't want to do something like this," said Polly Singer with disbelief in her soft voice. Singer is a hat designer who decided around Derby time last year to promote horse rescue with three charity hats. For each handmade hat sold, she would donate $30 to the rescue organization. She didn't give up. "I was talking to my client, Governor Beshear's wife, and she suggested the KyEHC," explained Singer. "I like that they do horse rescue, but not just Thoroughbreds, but all breeds." By selling at least 10 hats, Singer raised over $300 last year. She says she’d like to own a horse, but it takes a lot of work, also admitting it is very expensive. "So, I thought I'd do what I could," says Singer, who also encourages other people to help in any way they can.

Rood & Riddle, the KDA, and Singer all support the KyEHC, and while it is not the only one in Kentucky, it is a prominent one in Jessamine County. Opening their doors four years ago, Lori Neagle the Executive Director said, "We provide an option for people who have nowhere to go, who can't keep their horses. [The horses] might not be marketable, and sometimes they are injured. Sometimes [owners] simply don't have time to sell them." Some of the reasons for not keeping the horses include bankruptcy, high costs of living, and other stresses in the lives of the owners. Whatever the reason, the Center is committed to giving second chances to horses. Part of their mission statement found on their website says they seek, "To provide humane treatment and shelter while working as a clearinghouse to seek adoptive homes for all of Kentucky's unwanted equines, regardless of breed."

Neagle explains how the horses come from all different areas – from the racetrack, animal control, as well as farms. "They all deserve a second chance," said Neagle. A few horses, like Courageous Comet, who received this year's Rood & Riddle Thoroughbred Sport Horse of the Year Award, will go from racing on to sport careers like eventing. However, most horse coming through the Center will go on to be pleasure or trail horses because injuries will prevent them from jumping. According to Neagle, the horses that have the greatest challenge gaining a second chance are the horses that are limited by injury or those that are not trained. Horses that are in good health and well trained are easier to adopt. They are the ones that will almost certainly go on to a good second career, whether it is as a sport horse or simply someone's trail horse.

Because it costs about between $250 and $665 a month to keep a horse at the Center while it is waiting to be adopted, money must be raised. The KyEHC is a beneficiary of Hats Off Kentucky at the Kentucky Horse Park. Money is raised through charity events as well. For the third year, the Center is hosting the All Breed Charity Horse Show, a schooling show for all breeds and disciplines. Neagle said, "It's a good way to raise money and get out into the community. It is low key, more laid back, a lot of fun." They receive private donations from people like Singer and groups like the KDA. KyEHC has also received grants from Thoroughbred Charities of America.

Thoroughbred Charities of America is a national organization attempting to make options available for Thoroughbreds. According to their website, the mission is: "To provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers by supporting retirement, rescue and research and by helping the people who work with them." TCA does this by raising money and then providing grants to non-profit organizations that fulfill this mission.

Erin Crady, Executive Director of Thoroughbred Charities of America, said, "Racehorses getting a second career is a big problem—a hot button issue right now. Many of them are young and in good condition. They could go on to hunter jumper careers." Places like the KyEHC, that rehabilitate and adopt racehorses are eligible to apply for a grant.

TCA holds it biggest fundraiser, Stallion Season, each year in December. As Crady explained, "For Stallion Season—we get donations of breedings from farms across America. We then have a telephone auction of the donated seasons. The best one are auctioned in person in January at Keenland." Some of the best this last year included: Winstar Farm's Super Saver—the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, Darley's Street Sense, Lane's End's Smart Strike. Because the majority of the horses at KyEHC are Thoroughbreds, with an estimated 70%, the Center was eligible for to apply for a grant from TCA. They have received grants from TCA since 2006, and this year was one of the 81 non-profits that shared $860,672 in grant money.

Sadly, here in Jessamine County like in counties across America, there are unwanted horses. Many horses are not as lucky as my Diamond, who has been given the chance to retire to pasture. Horses don't ask much. As Neagle said, if they had an audible voice, all they'd ask is: "Give me an opportunity."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kentucky Equine Humane Center

The question about what happens to unwanted horses has been on my mind and heart for the last week or so. Pursuing the answer I called Lori Neagle, Executive Director of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center.

Lori told me, "We [KyEHC] provide an option for people who have nowhere to go, who can't keep their horses." People can't keep their horses for many reasons and must do something with their horse. Some of the reasons include bankruptcy, high costs of living, and other stresses in the lives of the owners. Usually, the horses are not sellable. Sometimes they are old, sometimes they are injured, but other times, the owner simply does not have time to sell the horse.

Lori went on to explain most horse coming through the Center will go on to be pleasure or trail horses because injuries will prevent them from jumping. They come from all different areas – from the racetrack, animal control, as well as farms. "They all deserve a second chance," said Lori.

What really pulled at my heart was when Lori told me, every horse that comes through simply asks one thing: "Give me an opportunity."

Friday, April 1, 2011

320 Guest Ranch

Tomorrow April 2nd there will be an nasja non-sanctioned event in Gallatin Gateway Montana at the 320 Guest Ranch. It begins at 11:30am tomorrow morning, so that doesn't give me a lot of time to get there, but if you live in near Montana, Gallatin Gateway is only about 100 miles south of Helena.
Spectators are free and entree per team is $50.

Btw - MSNBC featured 320 Guest Ranch during their Today Show.
It looks good.

A thought to ponder...

The temperature is warming up and, at least here in Kentucky, spring is really on its way. While some people might still have snow to ski jor with, NASJA sanctioned events are over for this winter.

While some ski-jorers are gearing up for sand joring and summer training, I have thought to pose. Here is Kentucky there is a plight that is sadly common to any area where horses live in great numbers. Unwanted horses and horses belonging to owners unable to care for them, have a plight. Where do they go? What do they do next? When a horse is no longer useful to its owner, what is in its future? When a racehorse's career is over, does it get a second career? When a family must find a new home for their horse member, where does it go? Without an easy answer I ask you to ponder this dilemma.

One group of caring souls attempting to do something to answer this question is a group of horse-lovers involved with the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. By phone conversation I asked Sheila Woerth, the Kentucky Dressage Association Show Chairman, why the KDA supports the KyEHC. She said, "We've tried to support them [because] we believe in horses not going to slaughterhouses." Woerth went on to explain, "We give part of our profit [each year] to another non-profit like ours. We chose the Humane Center because they are a rescure organization. They give the horse, like the Thoughobred track horse, a chance at a second career at something like dressage or eventing -- they are given a second life."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Keep Ski Joring Alive!

Since the first days of harnessing all types of animals, from dogs to caribou to horses to pull a skier many years ago in Scandinavia, the activity made its way across to America. The sport of Ski joring, like any sport, has had its share of ups and downs, and the only way any sport keeps going is if people participate. Participation supports the life of the sport. If you are like this student, you may have wondered what it takes to start ski joring or how to go about getting an event started.

Snow and Course

One important basic requirement for ski joring is snow. While a ton makes it that much better, a mere six inches of snow is all that is necessary. That is not a lot. However, it needs to be packed firm and level. As Vernon Kiser from Whitefish Montana says that at the Whitefish Winter Carnival they use a groomer, but a tractor will do, to pack the snow. "The main thing is to have solid footing for the horses. Even if you just scrape the snow away so that it is about 4-6 inches deep that will work," describes Kiser. And Geoffrey Smith, president of the North American Ski Joring Association agrees, "A foot of snow is plenty." However, Smith goes on to strongly caution, "We are very particular about the foot of the horse." He says that the footing needs to be firm. "We use a Snow Cat from a ski area to pack the course. You don't want the hoof sinking or anything to cause tripping. You can do this even if you only have six inches, as long as it is firm pack."Matt Smart, organizer of Sandpoint's sanctioned race in January, adds to what Kiser and Smith say, " You only need about 4in to 6in of packed snow. The harder the snow, the faster the horses can run."

As an individual enjoying the sport, no course is needed, but in competing, a good level course is a must. Courses across America vary in shape, length, as well as the number and size of jumps and other features. A course can be many shapes from a horseshoe shape to J-hook to straight, and the length can very from 600 feet to 1,200 feet. "There are a lot of different ways to set up course," explains Kiser. Smith says, "Each venue has its unique spin and has the ability to be unique. That's the fun about the sport." Kiser describes,"[In Whitefish] we do a U shape course with 3 jumps, skier goes in and out of gates. Our course is about 800 feet long." In Wisdom, Montana according to Denise, member of the Big Hole Valley Tourism Group, "We use a straight track 900 feet long. We have 3 jumps and 7 or 8 gates, Slalom style; two on right, one on left. The jumps are 30-36 inches high. We keep them low because we have beginners involved."

No matter the length, a couple hundred feet of a straight slow down stretch is necessary. Denise explains, "On the straight course we have a run out of about 500 feet beyond the track to slow down." He explains that you don't want to be asking the horse to slam to a stop. The horses full out gallop achieving speeds as fast as 40mph. Jumps tend to be slalom style and the height and width depend on how much air, how high, the designer wants the skier projected. Other features include rings the skier is to gather or obstacles for the skier to navigate.


Prepared horses, riders, and skiers are obviously required participants. For an event, judges and farriers are needed as well. And at events you will have spectators.

Horses need to be comfortable with ropes around them and with pulling something, or in this case someone, behind them. According to Smith, most horses are fine with such a set up, once they realize they are never going to out run the skier. Smith encourages people to start training before the winter, to get the horse used to the idea.

While the rider controls the horse, the skier being pulled behind needs to be prepared. The skiers need to be ready to sink their weight low, shins against the boots, taking in and letting out on the tow rope as necessary to keep in contact with the horse and clear the obstacles. "[The] skier moves up and down rope to make gates, [which] are set up like a slalom course," describes Kiser. For this type of event ski gloves are best left at home. Smart recommends that skiers should use work gloves due to the rope burning good ski gloves. Skiers also need to be prepared with a good helmet and sturdy goggles. "Flying ice balls and horse shoes coming off the horse come flying at the skier. The helmet is more for the flying debris from the horse. Being close to the horse you never know what will happen," explains Smith who does not see ski joring nearly as dangerous as eventing.

Judges are needed at the starting line, end, and at any jumps or other features of a course. When seriously competing, farriers are needed for applying traction to the shoes, like borium or studs. As Smith strongly advises, "When racing competitively, traction shoes and studs are a must. We use borium, but other people use the screw-ins." Smart strongly feels, when racing, "Most importantly for the horse, use studded shoes!" Alone, ski joring for pleasure, bare hooves can be fine as long the horse is not working hard, impacting the hooves on the frozen ground. Smith says, "With soft snow, when you're starting out, no shoes are fine." To clarify, no shoes are fine for the horse who is pulling a skier around at a slow pace in soft snow, not racing on packed snow.

While watching is encouraged, to maintain safety the track needs clearance. "Just warn spectators to stand back. Keep them back from the track a bit," advises Denise.


  • Something to create and pack a level course, like a tractor or SnowCat or groomer.
  • Tack for the horses. Smith recommends Western tack with a breast collar and D-ring. "You want the weight being pulled off the chest, not the saddle," Smith explains. Smart recommends bell and splint boots as well as a breast collar for the horse.
  • Ski equipment for the skier.
  • Hand-timer. In Wisdom they're using hand-timers and flaggers, but other places use electronic timers.
  • A good cotton rope. 33feet long for a straight track and 50 feet for a curving one are standard lengths. "Use about a 5/8" cotton rope, like in a lead line; its friendlier on gloves. Don't use ski rope or plastic rope – that will burn gloves," advises Smith. "You can use up to a 1" line. We'll knot ours with a splice, so the skier can grip." However, as Smart advices, "Do not use a tow rope with a handle. These can be very dangerous if they wrap around the skier or horse at the start."
  • If an event is to be held, other details that need to be considered include the same as "a rodeo" as Denise put it. Sponsorship, insurance, concessions, and maybe an ambulance should be considered.

By joining in participation, participants join a group of fun loving people all across America and become a part of keeping the sport alive.

Last piece of advice: As Smith, President of NASJA, will tell you, "People doing ski joring are friendly and fun loving people. So just get people together and try it. Take baby steps." If you, like myself, take Smith's advice, we will have questions. But as I have found, ski joring people are really helpful and willing to answer those questions.

Good luck and welcome to ski joring!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Leadville Ski Joring

In just four days, March 5th and 6th, Leadville, Colorado will be hosting their non-sanctioned 62nd annual race.

As the Leadville legend goes, Tom Schroeder and “Mugs” Ossman brought ski joring to Leadville from Steamboat Springs in 1949. It was a case of “we can do it better”, when the two friends decided they could improve Steamboat Springs version by making it about speed. So that year, the Crystal Carnival exhibited Ski Joring Leadville-style and the two friends figured right. It has been a part of the annual winter activities ever since.

One guest to last year’s event posted on the website, “[I] thought it was the most awesome spectacle of skiing and horses that I had ever witnessed.” It sounds like an event to go watch!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

St. Moritz Skijoring Results

345 days until the next race boldly the banner across the home page of the White Turf racing website White Turf informs visitors.

Over the past three consecutive February Sundays, ultimate snow racing thrilled the crowds at the White Turf racing facilities in St. Moritz Switzerland. At these races, the skier drives the horse, and the horse has no rider.

On Sunday the 6th, nine competed. King George with his skier Broger Jakob placed first with a time of 3:14, followed by Gallardo with skier Luminati Leo, and Viva la Mama with skier Wolf Alfredo Lupo.

On Sunday the 13th, ten raced. The top three were Bergonzi/Moro Franco with a time of 13:11, followed by Luberon/Willy Andy, and then Gallardo/Luminati Leo.

On the third Sunday, the 20th, only six raced. Bergonzi /Moro Franco again came in first with a time of 13:14, King George/Broger Jakob came in second, followed by Gallardo/Luminati Leo third.

Go to the website and check out the photos from past years. What do you say? 2012 - St. Mortiz, ja? Jawohl!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ski Joring in Wisdom Montana

While St. Moritz White Turf race is still underway with one more weekend (Feb. 19-20) of racing, and the last North American Ski Joring Association's last sanctioned event took place this last weekend (Feb 12-13) in Newport, N.H., Wisdom, Montana (located 78 miles southwest of Butte on Highway 243 or 65 miles north of Dillon on Highway 278) is getting ready for its annual Big Hole Valley Winterfest and Ski Joring weekend (Feb.26 -27). This non-sanctioned NASJA event is open to competitors of "all skill level". The race includes a "900ft course with skier going through eight gates and over three 3.5ft jumps". The racing will be at 12:30 on Saturday and Sunday.

Big Hole Valley 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ski Joring Dangers (part 1)

Ski joring is risky for the human and horse alike. For humans, ski joring, like any other horse sport, has the same inherent dangers associated with horses. Risks include being kicked, or dragged. It is also inherently risky for people as it involves the dangers of skiing and snow sports as well. Skis get can get caught and cause nasty falls or ligament tears. However, it is just as risky for horses.

There are a many areas of risk for the horse, but here, I'd like to highlight one particular area, the risk involving the horse's hooves.

An article by Christy West Link on the intricacies of the horse's hoof encourages consideration for how the horse's hooves are effected in any circumstance. Considering the extremeness of racing in snow, her article is even more poignant. She says, "Knowing how the hoof is built and what it is capable of can help you understand what it needs to stay healthy and recover if compromised."

Hoof with no traction devices.
When the horse is cantering, racing, or let out at top speed, he places all of his weight on his hooves with great impact. In West's article, Andrew Parks, MA, VetMB, MRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, professor of the Department of Large Animal Medicine at the University of Georgia comments, "It's impressive that a running thoroughbred racehorse can put more than twice his weight on a hoof that's only 5 inches in diameter."When ski-joring, the horse is racing over frozen ground covered with deep snow. In an e-mail interview, farrier Jim Duncan points out, "Racing on snow is risky business for the rider as well as the horse, regardless of the fun involved."

In the anatomy of the hoof, behind the hoof wall are layers of laminae. These layers attach the hoof to the bone. "This attachment is unbelievably strong when healthy, suspending the coffin bone and thereby the horse's weight even with about 2,000 pounds of force landing on each forefoot during a running stride," said West. "However, the laminae can become weakened by repetitive injury or disease, leading to the inflammation, pain, and potential coffin bone instability with laminitis." This needs to be considered by owners racing their horses over frozen, snow-covered ground. Duncan says, "I think running a horse on frozen ground is akin to racing on blacktop or concrete, all three have the same effect."

Another matter for consideration is the traction the horse will have while racing in the snow.  Farrier Mitch Taylor from the Kentucky Horseshoeing School says, "The important thing is traction, so that the horse does not fall down; so he doesn't slip and cut himself or cut the horses he racing against."

The Horse World link, A publication of Kentucky Equine Research, Inc, suggests that, "screw-in studs or borium patches applied to the horseshoes help the horses gain traction on the snowy raceways."

Farrier Jesse Kleintop says, "Traction on [a ski-joring] horse -- the best thing for that, instead of shoes with borium or permanent studs, is screw in studs, -- like for an eventing horse, only in lots of snow." He explanins that there are hundreds of stud sizes to choose from and the size of the stud needed depends on the surface conditions. "It's about what works for the horse," he says. Kleintop says he would put two studs in the heel of  each hoof and perhaps, a third in the hind hooves (on the outside, close to the front). Taylor recommends screw in calks of tungsten carbide [borium], and stud holes in each heel as well as one in the front of all four of the hooves.

Besides decreasing traction, snow build-up in the hooves causes bruising of the sole, great pain, and lameness. "You'll want a snowball pad so that the snow doesn't pack in the foot," says Kleintop. Snow packing into the hooves is not good for the legs. It is like standing on a high hill and then trying to run with that hill.

However, Duncan warns, "I have only found temproary solutions to keeping ice from 'balling up' in the shoe. Caulks, toe grabs, snow pads, lubricants, and other means of keeping snow out of shoes is at best a poor deterrent for 'balling', making running in snow unsafe."

Nevertheless, as in any horse sport, there are conflicting opinions. "It's not unsafe," assures Taylor. "Horses have evolved to deal with snow and winter weather. There is always a chance of injury, but no more than any other horse sport."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

World Skijoring Championships

This coming weekend, Jan. 29th-30th, the World Skijoring Championships are taking place in the town of Whitefish, Montana, just 136 miles north of Missoula.

Registration starts tomorrow, the 28th and competitions will be held at the Whitefish Airport from noon to 4p.m. the 29th and 30th.

The skijoring "will be the signature Whitefish Carnival competition that combines a Montana-style winter extreme sport mix of two of Montana's favorites: horses and skiing." (link)

There is an estimated $20,000 in cash and prizes. Spectators are free and coming to watch is encouraged. The cost of parking is $5 per car. A portion of the fee will be donated to the non-profit Human Therapy on Horseback.

According to Whitefish's tourism website (link), "this year's World Skijoring Championships will have three divisions: the Open Division for the most experienced competitors vying for the biggest cash purse; a Sport Division for those who are less experienced, and a Novice Division."

If you want to participate, follow this link for rules and general questions.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Skijoring in the USA

Upcoming in U.S. skijoring competitions is the 98th annual Winter Carnival in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Feb. 2-6.

Steamboat Springs proudly lays claim to having "produced 56 Winter Olympians from 1932-2002" and "sending athletes to all but two Winter Olympics since 1932." From the Olympics to annual town events, this town seems to thrive on snow sports, doing them in a unique way. No matter the weather, the Winter Carnival is held every year in the second week in February.

All of the Winter Carnival street competition events are horse pulled events, and all but the shovel race are for youth under 18. In-person registration is needed in advance and will open Friday Jan. 28 at the Steamboat Springs Visitor's Center and closes on Friday Feb. 4.The ski joring competition has two divisions; one for ages 6 to 9 and one for ages 10 to 14. The contestants flat race down freshly snow covered Lincoln Avenue. At this competition, the fastest time wins. Other "events that embrace [Steamboat Spring's] western heritage and highlight Steamboat's tradition of winter sports" include ring and box, ring and spear, street slalom, donkey jump and shovel race. 

 Link: Steamboat Springs, Co.

What is skijoring?

Here are links to some basic information on the sport of skijoring that have proved helpful to me.

Link: Skijoring with Horses

Link: the Extreme Winter Equestrian Sport

Link: Thrills and Chills of Skijoring

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Skijoring in Switzerland - St. Moritz

Up coming in the world of elite skijoring is the annual White Turf races at St. Moritz Switzerland, February 6, 13 and 20. The annual racing event will take place over the first three consecutive Sundays of the month, ending with the team earning the best combined score of the three races being awarded and crowned “King of the Engadine." Although skijoring has Scandinavian roots, it was in Switzerland and at St. Moritz where the sport of skijoring was "born."

Since 1906 St. Moritz has hosted skijoring races on the frozen lake.  30,000 spectators are expected to attend this year for the thrill of watching this distinctly winter sport; Thoroughbred racehorses pulling their ski clad drivers over thick ice and through the powdery white snow.

The cost of attending the event is $52-$63, but if the stakes and prize money indicate anything, the race is worth watching. Last year's combined prize money was at $478,279, was almost half a million. And the Grand Prix of St. Moritz alone has a prize of $115,364.36, "the highest prize money for a horse race in Switzerland."