Skiing and horses are two things Utah has no shortage of. So why not combine them?
It’s called skijoring – kind of like water skiing, but on snow. Rather than a boat, a horse and rider pull the daredevil on two skis. Over the weekend, the Utah Skijoring competition brought together 200 teams in Heber City.
During the competition, horse riders and skiers try to navigate gates, turns and jumps on a track in under a minute. Skiers grab rings with one hand, shimmy them onto their arm and snatch the rope again. Sometimes there are rings for the rider, too.
The first record of an animal pulling a human on skis is from thousands of years ago in Central Asia. The sport’s name comes from Norwegian, sometimes spelled skijøring or skikjoring, and means "ski driving." Equine skijoring arrived in North America in the early 1900s. They’ve been skijoring in Leadville, Colorado since 1949. Competition in Heber began in 2017.
Frisky Whiskey was one of the teams in Heber this year. Rider Shelby Moore of Grantsville is in her second year competing. Her horse is Jack. The team’s skier is Troy "T-Roy" Houston of Parowan, who has been skiing for more than five decades and skijoring for eight years. By the end of the weekend, Frisky Whiskey didn’t place. But Houston said the sport is about more than that.
“Everybody needs to get outside to enjoy and breathe the clean air and live life to its fullest under the blue dome.”