I was watching the news the other night and was fascinated at what I saw: an event with racers on skis being pulled by horses as a competition.

According to Wikipedia, this is also traditionally done by being pulled by a dog or a team of dogs, other animals, and even motor vehicles. The sport is called Skijoring, and it's derived from the Norwegian word meaning "ski driving". It's almost like waterskiing in the winter, except you're on a pair of actual downhill skis or a snowboard, and instead of being pulled by a boat on water, you're being pulled by a horse on snow.

The skier/snowboarder wears a harness, which is attached to a towline connected to the horse's harness. They are then pulled by the horses through a course of gates and jumps, and naturally, the best time wins. Time penalties are given for any failures to follow the course correctly.

As a longtime Mainer, I was surprised that I had never heard of this event, which began in Skowhegan six years ago and has since expanded into Topsham and Bangor (which now makes up the Maine Skijoring Triple Crown). 

As fun as this looks, skiers and riders will want to be experienced and follow all safety precautions, as they could find themselves in a situation gone wrong.

According to News Center Maine, the top five teams in the Pro Division at each individual race will earn points based on their place, and teams will earn one extra point for each race they attend. Prizes are handed out at the conclusion of each event.

Each event will take place over the course of the next month.

  • 2/10 - 10am. Skijor Topsham: Topsham Fairgrounds
  • 2/24 - 11am. Skijor Skowhegan: Skowhegan State Fairgrounds
  • 3/2 -10:30am. Skijor Bangor: Hollywood Hotel Casino and Raceway

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