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Winter Equestrian Games
 By Winniefield Park   •   19th Feb 2018   •   880 views   •   0 comments
Winter Equestrian Games

The Winter Olympics are underway and thereís not much for an equestrian sports fan to get excited about. Maybe we need the alternate Winter Olympic events for horse owners to give us something to cheer about. You may have witnessed or participated in some of these events. So itís not a big leap to take them to world-class competition.

Luge
In the Winter Olympics, luge athletes slide down a steeply inclined icy track on a tiny lightweight sleigh reclining on their backs. The equestrian version involves climbing atop a pile of round bales to try to remove a frozen-on tarp. The judged portion is the descent, which often includes sliding down on your back or backside. Ideally, the landing should be on your feet, however, extra points are given for artistic impression. Points can also be earned by catching your leg between the bales and landing inverted, or for degrees of ice burn or amount of hay up your back or down your pants.

Curling
In the horse world, this isnít strictly a winter sport. Itís played year round. The object is to sweep an entire pile of horse manure into a shovel in as few strokes as possible. In the wintertime, this is made more difficult when the buns freeze and roll freely. Top scorers can load a shovel in one sweep, while those with less skill will chase rolling and escaping buns down the aisle. Competitors who give up and flip manure into an open stall door will be disqualified.

Ice Dancing
While ice dance skating may be elegant and intricate, in the horse world itís more a sport of agility, endurance, and daring. The goal is to carry buckets of hot water to defrost a frozen water trough. The dancing surface is a rutted path through snow and ice from the house, to the stable. Points are gained by not slopping water through the house, putting your boots on without putting the buckets down, keeping your pant legs dry and staying on your feet through ice and snow. Bonus points are given for making it the entire distance without putting the buckets down and keeping your mittens dry when you pour.

Skeleton
In the Olympic version of skeleton, an athlete races down an icy track on a lightweight frame-like sleigh facing downwards, so they descend head first. The equestrian version involves a similar icy descent. Once the athlete successfully pushes a full wheelbarrow up the slippery board to the top of the manure pile and deposits the contents, they must return down the board to the stable, keeping the wheelbarrow under control. This is usually done by putting your balance backward while walking. But, hitting an icy portion of the board, catching a foot in a stray piece of baler twine, a loose shoelace or another obstacle can throw the athlete's balance forward, resulting in a head-first descent. Points are given for style and speed, while bonus points can be earned if the landing involves a semifreddo poop puddle. Olympic athletes reach speeds of up to 80 mph (128 km h). The equestrian skeleton athlete can expect to exceed these speeds on a steep board covered in ice.

Slalom
The road to the Olympics is challenging and long. And there are days when the road to the manure pile is similar and never more so when the wind is directly out of the north, creating small drifts over the frozen piles of manure on the path. The course consists of said frozen piles, a few inches of snow and several snow-covered frozen urine stained puddles lurking beneath. The idea of this sport is to dodge the frozen piles while staying on your feet as you skid over the frozen puddles without spilling or tipping any of the load in your wheelbarrow. Disqualification is immediate if the barrow tips over, and points are lost if buns going rolling off, or you use any curse words as you hit a frozen pile and come to a dead stop. Points are earned for speed, accuracy, and style.

Freestyle Aerials
Both snowboarding and skiing have their version of this sport whether it be Big Air or Slopestyle. We equestrians have our version of this winter sport as well. Things get started when you first get on a well-grained horse after a few weeks of idleness due to extremely cold weather. Scoring is based on the execution of the mount, and dismount. Points are awarded for getting into the saddle, form while airborne, for the dismount, and of course if you stick the landing. A successful landing on two feet earns extra points although simply avoiding a ride in an ambulance will be considered completing the required dismount element.
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