Harley D is a member of our “A Squad” among the horses at the Anstine ranch. He is a great, dependable horse and always up for a new adventure. Generally, he packs people, gear and animals. He proves himself to be more amazing all the time. This winter, via our farrier, he found something new to try out. Harley D entered a winter race. Not your typical horse race. He was going to pull someone in ski joring!
The event is a race in which a horse and rider pull a skier down a snow-packed obstacle course. The horses run 25 to 30 miles per hour as they pull a skier maneuvering slalom style through gates and over jumps. The horses are shod with a special shoe to help keep traction on the snow-packed course which may be icy. The horse and rider must be accustomed to ropes and the weight and sound of the skier behind them. The skier must be experienced enough to manipulate a rope while maneuvering through gates and completing jumps at high speeds.
Harley D trained for several weeks before the big event. It would be his first time towing a skier and racing down a street with screaming crowds. He practiced daily and was well prepared.
The morning of the race the farrier equipped Harley D with new shoes. It was a warm 9 degrees out. The farrier hurried as quickly as he could in the freezing temps. Harley would be racing for two days, and on this first day, the farrier suggested putting the race plates only on the front feet so Harley could dig into the snowpack. Harley stood patiently and allowed the race plates to be clamped on
Harley D’s jockey, Cheyann, warmed him up for the day’s events making a couple of runs up the street and through the crowd. He was very calm and had a disposition like he had done this many times before.
Harley D and Cheyann were teamed up just before race time with their skier. Harley D poised himself at the starting line and with a kick from Cheyann’s spur, he lunged forward. The skier grasped the rope and gradually let the slack out as they flew down the street. First to the left then rapidly to the right. Up an over a small berm, which increased the skier’s velocity sling-shotting him to the left and preparing him for the next jump. A large 4-foot tall one which he would now be flying off of at over 30 miles per hour.
As the skier launched from the huge jump, he quickly grasped for the slack in the rope keeping it taught. He landed cleanly and continued down the course up and over obstacles the entire way. Harley D dug in hard, and his front feet pulled, but his back end slipped a little slowing him down. With Cheyann’s encouragement, Harley D kept on, and the race was over in a matter of seconds. The skier passed through all the required gates and jumps without faltering. Harley D pulled the team’s 18.43-second finish. We watched and waited as the other teams ran. Some skiers finished smoothly, others hit the snow hard.
The second day, Harley D got plates put on his back feet as well, and as he launched from the starting line, the skier grasped tight on the rope. He made it over the preparation burns, but when he launched off the first 4-foot jump, he forgot his tuck. The team was speeding by at faster than 30 miles per hour. The skier landed with his skis splayed and flew chest-first across the snow-packed street into the crowd. The team ended up with a no-time for the day two race.
Harley D and Cheyann had an amazing two days of racing. They competed against state champions and even track horses. They both competed well and ran fast. They were proud of their skier who successfully finished the race on the first day with a time of 18.43. The team finished their first skijoring race through the streets of Silverton with a spectacular 4th place!
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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