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Horses in the Winter Olympics
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Sep 2013   •   4,470 views   •   0 comments
Horses in the Winter Olympics

The 2014 Winter Olympics is fast approaching. I love watching the downhill skiing, the speed skating, bob sled and skeleton. Horse events were an important part of the ancient Olympics, with sports like chariot racing and ridden races. The Summer Olympics feature dressage, eventing and stadium jumping. Unfortunately, the Winter Olympics don't have much for the horse lover to enjoy. We've briefly had our day in the sun — or snow, however. Since the beginning of the modern Winter Olympics, which were first celebrated in Chamonix, France in 1924, horse events have been demonstrated.

Skijöring
If you've ever tried Skijöring, you'll know it's a lot of fun. Skijöring is skiing behind horses or dogs. With horses, the person being pulled is attached to a simple harness and no reins, although sometimes there is a rider guiding the horse. This sport was demonstrated at the 1928 Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland. This is still an exciting sport in some countries, with its own skills and strategies. While some of these competitions are all about speed, others now incorporate jumps or obstacles to navigate.

I've Skijöred by attaching a tow rope to the horn of a western saddle, and having someone else ride the horse. Of course, it was exciting, but like anything that involves horses and ropes, you need to be very wary of someone getting tangled. You probably shouldn't use your good downhill skis either, but an old pair that is properly adjusted to pop the boots out of the bindings if you should go down. A helmet and gloves are a good idea too. I'm not going to give many suggestions for trying this, as it's difficult to come up with a method that is completely safe. Definitely, a try at your own risk activity (kind of like jumping backwards).

Article: Crazy Stunts with Olop - Jumping Backwards

Winter Pentathlon
The Modern Pentathlon is a contest that consists of five separate sports: fencing, 200 m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a final combined event of pistol shooting, and a 3200 m cross-country run. The Winter Pentathlon, demonstrated in 1948, included fencing, cross-country and downhill skiing, pistol shooting, and horseback riding. A photo from the 1948 Winter Olympics shows a rider taking a horse over a cross-country type jump, with a snow scene in the background. Fourteen competitors took on the snowy challenge, and the top placings were taken home by three Swedish pentathletes.

Flat Racing
Flat racing, both ridden and driven was hugely popular in the early part of the 1900s, so it's no surprise that the sport was adapted to the winter season. In 1928, the sport of flat racing on snow was demonstrated at the Winter Olympics. Flat racing over snow is still common in many northern countries. In fact, St. Moritz has been holding the White Turf horse racing event since 1907. The White Turf track is laid out on a frozen lake. The ice must be at least 30cm (12 inches) thick, and the snow is packed tightly, giving the horses some grip.

What do you think? Should horse events be a part of the winter Olympics?

Image Credit: © Giuliachristin | Dreamstime.com
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