Skijoring has been on my list of things to try for a long time. Unfortunately for me, my horse has lived a life of the pampered show horse and tends towards fits of fear when encountered with horse carriages. For this reason I thought skijoring would not go over well. I spent one winter trying to teach her to ground drive in preparation for skijoring, but we never really progressed.
I did some side jobs driving horses through university, so the next logical step was to try skijoring with one of them. Recently a friend of mine, who obviously lacks sanity to, agreed to try out skijoring.
With the permission of the horses’ owner (who thought our crazy plan was great) we started planning. I should mention that we had never skijored before, the horses had never skijored before and the set up was new to us – really a great idea.
We spent some time researching and decided for our first attempt, having someone ride the horse while another skied would lead to the most success.
It has been unseasonably warm in Canada, but of course on “game-day” it was -18C outside. We were not going to work the horses hard, so went ahead with our plan. I am always cold, so I dressed for the occasion: two layers of pants, coveralls, socks, two thermal tops, two sweaters, two coats, a scarf, Dubuarry boots, a riding helmet, ski googles and ski gloves.
Our equine partner was Mac, a Percheron from a team that usually drives together, so do not like being separated. The plan was to try out skijoring in their paddock, where we had fences if anything went wrong. We harnessed up Mac and after some fumbling headed to the paddock. At first we tried leaving Torino lose while we skijored, but this proved to be much too exciting for him….
After a short intermission to tie up Torino within viewing distance of Mac, we were on our way! We tried sans-skis first, just to see what Mac would do or how he would feel if the tugs hit his legs. And he was great!
The moment of truth was when I clicked into my skis and with a slight lurch we were off. We stuck to the walk and trot for our first try and it went surprisingly smooth. In all truth, I was expecting something out of the norm to happen!
After several laps as the skier, we switched up. I got on Mac….to discover he did not have any interest in going where I told him. We spun around a few times, but with some help from Ali, we were back on track. I think he was just trying to see how serious I was about making him go forward.
We did several more laps with me as the rider before calling it a day. A very good day!
* We hope to progress to faster speeds
* Eventually no rider and steer on our own
* Get both of us skijoring behind an individual horse
Since outtakes are nearly as fun as the real thing, check out this video:
*Note: there is occasional swearing, you have been warned. 🙂