Sometime in late December last year, I was researching some winter activities for Tom and I to do, when I came across some information about the Leadville Ski Joring. Ski joring with horses, now this looked like fun! I booked a place to stay (near where the race would be run downtown and a piece of history itself) and looked forward to the weekend we’d be heading to Leadville for the event.

What is Ski Joring you ask? From the Leadville Ski Joring website:

“Ski Joring is a competition where a horse and rider pull a skier at a fast pace through a course that has gates, jumps and rings. The skier is timed through the course, and penalties are assessed by missing gates or jumps, and by missing or dropping any of the rings. The competitors race for cash prizes, and teams are made up by a randon draw before the start.

The Leadville Ski Joring event has been going on in Leadville since 1949, and is one of the premier events of its kind in the country.”

Contestants are separated into three classes; Open, Sport and Legends. Before the start of the day’s races, teams draw for time slots, followed by the Calcutta Sale (my understanding of the Calcutta is that it is a sidepot where each contestant is sold and all monies are put in a separate pot. An auction. The person who “buys” the winning team/contestant in the calcutta wins the pot).

Sounds like a blast, right? 😉

Finally, that weekend in March arrived and we were on our way to the historic little town of Leadville. I-70 was clogged with ski traffic headed to the high country, but once we turned onto Hwy. 91 (Fremont Pass) at Copper Mountain, we hardly saw a soul.

Click on the images for larger/sharper views and then hit your Back button.

The gal I had spoken to about our reservations had told us that once we reached Leadville, we just needed to park anywhere we could until the day’s activities ended and then we could check in and find parking right in front of the building. So that’s what we did. We found a spot not too far away, bundled up, grabbed my gear and headed for Harrison Avenue.

It was still a bit early and kids being pulled by snow mobiles was taking place. Too cute! Future ski jorers!

Looking south on Harrison Avenue at one of the larger jumps.


Let go of the rope!

Whew! He was fine. 🙂

Found these two in front of the Municipal Building.

And then the horses started to arrive…

The mule with the blinders is Psycho Sadie. I think we heard that she and her rider came all the way from Montana. She was one of two mules we saw in the competition.


In the spirit of the event.

Yup, standing on the sidewalk. These horses have all kinds of tolerance. They pretty much have to.

I took this one because it shows how cold it was outside. Overcast with a bit of wind - you can get a pretty good picture of what conditions were like.

Helmet cams were spotted on many of the competitors. How much fun to be able to re-live your screaming ride being pulled behind a horse!

The event's announcer.

This gal ran FAST. We overheard that the horse to watch was Merlin. That's the gray one she's ponying. He didn't disappoint!

And finally in early afternoon, the adult races began! Woo Hoo!! (Some full sequences and some individual pics).

Oh no - drops a ring!

Only getting one ring. It's a tough course!

But they keep on going!

Starting to lose his balance a bit reaching for the rings...

Oh and he drops the rope. 😦

The following sequence was hard to watch, but just know, this is one tough gal and she was fine. Came back to compete in fact.

This is just at the beginning of the run. She appears to be leaning a bit in this photo.

Now she really looks off balance.

And she's down with sunglasses flying. The skier is doing his best to avoid hitting her while holding on to a now loose horse on the course.

It happens fast, but it appears the horse only has one thing on her (I believe it was a mare) mind. Getting back to her rider.

The taught rope indicates the skier is still holding on while a spectator reaches out for the little mare.

She gets around a jump and starts back to her owner.

Skier still in tow.

Making a beeline for the rider.

And the gal is up to collect her horse.

Back together and no one was hurt, although I'm sure the rider was sore and bruised! Whew!

On that note, I’ll think I’ll close this entry. Not even through day one yet. More to come… 🙂

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