Winter Horse Sports: Skijoring

Don’t get snowed in this winter—discover the thrilling sport of skijoring, which involves a horse and rider towing a skier at speeds reaching 35 miles an hour.

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Winter Horse Sports: Skijoring
Skijoring in the United States largely take place in the Rocky Mountain states. | Photo: iStock
Don’t get snowed in this winter—discover the thrilling sport of skijoring. Spectators and participants alike can enjoy this adventure-packed, Western-style discipline. It’s a team sport comprising a mounted rider, a horse, and a skier who holds a rope attached to the saddle.

Experienced competitors speed around a course of gates and jumps at speeds of up to 35 mph. Beginners can get involved at a slower pace in their backyard, at community-based festivals, or in novice divisions.

“We started by having our horses pull a sled and then skis long before we knew it was even a sport, because our horses were just getting lazy in the pasture all winter,” said Adam Rys-Sikora, president of Skijoring America, the sport’s governing body.

Nordic countries are credited with starting the sport—though it was teams of dogs that pulled skiers through a snow-covered obstacle course. In the United States, Tom Schroeder and “Mugs” Ossman helped move the sport from a pasture pastime to a fast-paced competition in 1949. Competitions sanctioned by Skijoring America largely take place in the Rocky Mountains that cross Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, though in the early 2000s competitions were held in New England, too

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Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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