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Native American Culture

Rodeo 101: Professional Indian Horse Racing

Have you ever heard of or seen Indian Horse Racing? This event is something that is unlike any other event out there today and tells a story all its own. The basis of the event starts with five determined teams consisting of three horses, one rider, one mugger, and two holders, entering the track. They each take their designated box in preparation for the start of the race. It is pretty typical that the teams spend months practicing for the start of the race and ready to leap into action. There are fifteen horses total that are primed and ready to race. The holders and muggers take their place, ready to do their job through each exchange, despite the risk of personal injury to themselves, as the horses come in at a full gallop.     They are all working together to keep their team safe and be the first to cross the finish line. Some of the different types of Indian horse racing include the following:

  • Indian relay racing
  • Indian flat track racing
  • Ladies Indian flat track racing
  • Cowboy and Indian flat track racing

There are several individuals, teams and sponsors who are all dedicated to promoting the sport of Indian racing in a professional manner. Indian racing allows Indian tribes to express their rich heritage and passion for horse racing in a fun and exciting manner. It also allows them to display this passion to a broader audience than they would be able to otherwise.

Each race is a little bit different depending on the format but the Horse Nations Indian Relay Council has come forth to create a league or Indian Horse racing that is a series of tournaments that lead to a championship at the end of the season in Walla Walla, Washington. This not only promotes the sport as a whole but also helps promote the event on a more local level. Because this event is culturally ingrained, it can be difficult to explain to anyone that hasn’t experienced it. By giving these events more recognition, we hope to do our part in educating the industry about Indian Horse Racing’s deep cultural roots.

The sport of Indian relay is technically America’s oldest sport, dating back to pre-European settlement days. It began nearly 400 years ago when the first horse was introduced to America. By promoting the sport, we are helping to promote an element of early America’s rich history and Indian culture, making it a noteworthy and important event. Remember, these guys are not riding in the saddle, which is what makes Indian racing so authentic.

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