Photo © Jason Lugo

Billowing evergreens silhouetted against the soft glow from layers of freshly acquired snow crystals is a panorama often anticipated by skiers when embarking upon their adventure. However, each year in Bellevue, Idaho, such opulent scenery is traded for the hind view of a four-legged stead. The sport is dubbed “ski-joring” and incorporates two teammates: one mounted horseback with the other perched upon skis.

Photo © Jason LugoWhat began as a mode of transportation during harsh winters in Scandinavia has transformed into rapidly growing and competitive pastime throughout United States. A single rope, connected by the rider’s saddle and skier’s grasp, melds the teammates together as they navigate a series of jumps and gates while simultaneously collecting rings which are suspended course-side. Thundering power transferred from the stead’s determined, muscular legs ripples through the snowpack as teams take turns dashing across the track. While the rider is responsible for safely procuring one of the dangling rings during this journey, the burden of seizing the remaining (5-9) spheres falls upon the agility of the skier.

“People thinks it’s a horse race… it’s not,” explains Bellevue’s ski-joring event coordinator, Tyler Peterson. “The skier has to adapt to the pace and speed of the horse while not catching an edge. That’s just as big of a factor.”

Photo © Jason LugoThough Peterson admits he has witnessed one (or two) entertaining wrecks in his 15 years of involvement with ski-joring, he notes that most races are completed successfully. Points are deducted for each missed jump and ring with the victor of each age and skill bracket awarded points towards national ski-joring standings and a money added purse for upper divisions.

Photo © Jason LugoThis year’s event in Bellevue will be held the weekend of March 3-4. Cowboys, skiers, adventure seekers and curious citizens of all ages are encouraged to participate in the action or enjoy the thrills from the sidelines.

“It’s a really fun event by itself, but we also like to give back,” Peterson states. Proceeds from the $5 admission price for the 2012 event will be donated to the Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicap (SETCH). Any interested in participating or simply intrigued by the sport of ski-joring may contact Peterson at dallyup7@aol.com or by visiting http://www.woodriveresja.com.

About the author

Nicole Swafford - Nicole's deep affection for Southern Idaho's outdoors and rural heritage has long been an integral part of her life. Whether guiding horseback in the majestic Stanley basin, avidly pursuing big game archery-style, attempting a successful 8 seconds atop raging bulls or leaping from perfectly good airplanes, she revels in the many adventures Idaho offers. After obtaining a Masters of Public Administration, serving as the Managing Editor of her college's newspaper and writing correspondence for daily newspapers, Nicole has settled back into her beloved world of magazine journalism.

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2 comments

dang it I missed it last week end again good job on the article love the pics

Great article, thanks!! My 12 yr. old daughter has competed in this for the last 2 years, and is already looking forward to the 2013 race. Last year she skied and this year she pulled a skier behind her horse. My hope is that your article will draw more people to this event, it really is an awesome weekend and something fun to witness! Thanks for the pictures…you got some great shot of my daughter and even more her lil paint horse!!