Skijor West – Equine Skijoring
Over 70 teams will compete over 3 days in West Yellowstone for cash and prizes.
Equestrian skijoring consists of a team of a single horse, generally guided by a rider, pulling a person on skis who carries no poles and simply hangs onto a tow rope in a manner akin to water skiing.
Today, equine skijoring is a highly specialized competitive sport, where horses accelerate to over 40 mph in just three strides covering a straight track roughly 900 feet (270 m) in length. Skiers must navigate a series of jumps and gates and capture rings while being pulled by a rope at speeds up to 60 mph as they accelerate around turns. Jumps can reach 7 feet (2.1 m) in height, but are typically lower or roller style which are more friendly to snowboarders who wish to compete. Curved tracks are also used in states such as Montana. The straight course allows the horse to run at top speed down the middle of the course with the skier navigating slalom gates and jumps ranging from two to seven feet high, set on either side of the horse track. The horseshoe-shaped course allows the horse to run on the inside of the track and jumps, set on the outside of the track for the skier, are lower. Competitors often use short skis and modified water skiing towing equipment, though often this is as simple as a single tow rope attached to the saddle horn or the back of a western saddle.