One of the world’s wildest winter sports!
Those that enjoy extreme winter sports will love skijoring. Basically, it’s skiing behind a horse. The sport has been known to draw quite the crowd in North America. With speeds upward of 35 mph and various jumps, it’s no wonder spectators pour in to watch competitions.
Not only is this sport fun to watch, but many horse lovers actually give it a go. Beginners can travel at much slower speeds. Many give it a try in their own backyard. It’s not all that different from your horse pulling a sled or cart.
A Brief History of the Sport
Originating in Nordic countries, the sport consisted of dogs pulling skiers through an obstacle course. Horses eventually made their appearance in this exciting sport. In 1949, Tom Schroeder and “Mugs” Ossman revived Skijoring in the United States. Nowadays, competitions usually take place in the Rocky Mountains states.
What is Skijoring?
A mounted rider, usually in a western saddle, pulls a skier behind them. The skier holds no poles, rather a tow rope similar to water skiing. The horse will be directed down a track and the skier will navigate a series of jumps. In some special events, the skier will also grab rings at various stations. Other events will include skiers who jump for a maximum distance. The competitions are usually timed.
In addition to horses and dogs, other varieties of the sport exist. Some of the more common ones include skiers behind a snowmobile or small motorized vehicle, snowboarders instead of skiers, riderless horses and grassy fields in place of snow.
The Type of Equipment Used
In most situations, short skis and water ski towing equipment is used. The tow rope will often be tied to the saddle horn or cantle of a western saddle. Two towing lines can also be used. They can be attached to the back of the saddle or breast collar. In the United States, a western saddle is most common though English ones can be used, as well.
Horses must accept the ropes and skier behind them. If entering in competitions, they should also be confident in loud environments.
Where Can You Watch Competitions?
You can find skijoring in various parts of the United States. Leadville, Colorado has been hosting the races since 1949. Steamboat Springs, Colorado is another hub for the sport. Their annual Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival features skijoring for over 100 years now. Other venues include Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Minnesota and Maine. Skijoring is also popular in other parts of the world. France, Denmark, Sweden, Russia and Finlay are just a few countries that host various competitions.
You can find a complete list of United States competitions at Skijor USA (https://www.skijorusa.com).
Don’t leave all the fun up to the experts though! Skijoring is welcoming of all levels. Whether you choose to ride or ski, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone. You can even give it a whirl in your backyard. Make sure your horse is use to pulling things behind them though! Get ready for a whole new level of excitement with your horse.