September 24, 2021
Central Wyoming Fairgrounds, Outdoor Arena
Imagine if you will watching five determined teams consisting of three horses, one rider, one mugger and two holders, entering the track, each taking their designated box in preparation to the start of the race. All of the teams have spent months practicing for the start of the race, ready to leap into action, confident that they will bring home the honors. Each of the fifteen horses are primed ready to leap into action, anticipating the glory of the race. The holders and mugger ready to do their job, despite the risk of personal injury to themselves, as the horses come in for their exchanges. “Add to this the unsuccessful transfers-riders sprawled face down in the dirt of the track, or a rider clinging to the side of his horse in a struggle to stay aboard- and it’s easy to see why Indian relay is helping to fill the stands across the West” says American Cowboy “Indian Relay Racing” by Jack McNeel 2009 They are all working together to keep their team safe and be the first to cross the finish line. The thrill of the race is tangible and addictive to everyone attending. Chiefs, Warriors, and Maidens also compete for a win, all while riding bareback fearlessly against one another to claim individual titles of their own.
Horse Nations Indian Relay Council feels the need to encourage these young riders, who can start competitive racing at the age of 6 years in youth relays, to achieve theses goals and dreams. And while they ride their relay ponies just like the adult teams, they do so on a much smaller scale. HNIRC plans to host multiple youth relay race events to help start them on the road to accomplishing these goals while providing them support and guidance.
Members of our council have a tremendous amount of experience managing both large and small scale races covering 5 states and multiple local reservations, including small hometown tracks, county fairs, pow-wows, and large scale race events. These events provide the attendees with an experience they will never forget and leave them wanting more.
HNIRC invites you to experience the traditions and culture of Indian Relay.
Calvin Ghost Bear says “the relay is attractive to Native American boys who grow up on reservations. Most have access to horses and have tried some of the skills. They pride themselves on being horsemen and on becoming one with their horse. He calls the drive to do their best the warrior spirit in them.” – August 8th, 2016 issue of Montana Senior News by Bernice Karnop
Passed down from generation to generation this sport is steeped in family traditions. Some of our racers are fourth generation to take on the racing mantle. They strive to their traditional beliefs and values going strong.
While traditional horse breeds like the paint and appaloosa are still used for racing today, a good number of retired OTT thoroughbreds are making their mark in Indian Relay races.