A New Kind of Championship

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In this wide world of ours, sports and competitions range from the common ones we see on a regular basis (horse racing, hockey, or Jeopardy, for example) to the less common and sometimes bizarre. We’ve all heard of hot dog and pie eating contests, and maybe some people have even heard of the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association. But some odd sports and competitions are really out there … and one of the newest events centers around horses.

The Telegraph is reporting that a new attraction will be added to this year’s Blakewell Show, held annually in Derbyshire, England: The National Horse-Drawn Hearse Driving Championships. Yes, you read that right. According to the Telegraph’s article, “The entrants will not be judged on speed. Instead, the team of horses will lead an empty hearse around a parade ring and be judged on their appearance, decorum, and smoothness of travel.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this new championship event when I first read of it. But as I got to thinking, it seemed to make a little more sense to me. In the United Kingdom, horses are much more a way of life than they are here in the United States. And the Telegraph also said that the number of horse-drawn hearses at funerals in the U.K. rose 6% in the last year. It almost makes sense to have all the top horses and drivers gather to show off their style and abilities for the public, perhaps giving people a sense of ease when choosing a driver to carry the dearly departed to their final resting places.

But in light of those revelations, I still can’t help but feeling that this could be one of the most morbid championship events the world has ever seen. I’ll be very interested to see how it goes over with the public when the event takes place this August

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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