Have you heard of this or tried it?! Me, neither, but I need to try it! I’m not sure if I want to be the skier or the driver?!
OK, so what this is… a running horse pulls a skier on a course.
The snow is brought in and packed for the safety of the running horse. Then the jumps/slaloms/ring racks are built.
As one person said, “We make this for the safety of the horse… skiers are a dime a dozen!”
Anyway, there are jumps to go of. slaloms to navigate and then rings to spear and keep on your arm.
All of this is done on skies behind a full-out bolting horse, in 15 seconds. Wahoo!!
So the courses vary from straight and fast to curved and fast.
On the straight and fast, horses are at a full run and the emphasis is on speed. The skier has to hang onto the rope – like a water skier – do jumps, slaloms and spear hanging rings (similar to jousting) as fast and as accurately as possible.
On the curved course, the horse runs on the inside of the track while the skier navigates slaloms and jumps. This isn’t as fast but should be pretty and accurate.
Also, some of the horses are riderless. The skier drives the horse while skiing over the course. Now THAT would be awesome!
In any event, wow!
As an aside, I did watch a video of a snowboarder being pulled behind a horse… but so far, this method hasn’t really caught on.
Lore says that equine ski joring started via two cowboys in Leadville, Colorado who were fighting over which horse was faster while pulling. Because Colorado has snow, and one of the cowboys had heard of this ski joring when he visited Norway (dogs pulling cross country skiers), they decided to compete on skis.
It was probably at this time that the cowboys realized that their horses needed to be trained to:
–not be afraid of a crazy human pursuing – at the same measured distance – very rapidly on noisy skis
–get the slack out of the rope before running full speed ahead (many horses are not patient in this manner and jerk the arms off – not really – of the skiers)
–run straight, no matter what the crowd is doing
–go really fast and then stop nicely
–mind their owner who is most likely friends with the skier – or else their owner might no longer be friends with the skier…
From what I could surmise from the videos online, the trained horses are fairly calm when standing around waiting – and afterwards. I don’t think ANY of mine would be calm in this Hullabaloo environment with humans yelping and whooping and shooshing around!
As we know, the sport of equine ski joring began in Leadville, Colorado. From 1949 onward, Leadville has been the center of equine ski joring. The event is held on Harrision Avenue every year.
But the sport has expanded across all of the snowy states with huge competitions in Montana and Wyoming.
I, personally, am fond of Leadville because when I was a little girl, one of my favorite movies was THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN. It was set in Leadville. I knew every word, every song and every dance move. I was also very fond of the the male lead. I think that is why I chose Hubby… Probably not, but maybe. Dunno. Anyway… So there you go. I’m a fan.
VARIATIONS ON THE THEME…
I found these pics and wanted to add them.
You might want to check out these equine ski joring videos.
1) This is the one from Leadville which explains the process a bit.
2) This video is from Montana ski joring! Very dramatic!
3) This video is tame because it shows how kids learn with trotting horses – and also it shows how a riderless horse is driven by the skier. Cool!