Eventers gotta keep themselves entertained in the off-season somehow! As such, Rebecca Farm is gearing up to host its second annual skijoring (think: skiing behind horses) competition on Dec. 29-30.
Last year’s skijoring event was the first-ever at Rebecca Farm. Notwithstanding a blizzard the night before, the event drew nearly 90 teams from the Flathead Valley and surrounding counties, plus several from out of state. Thousands of spectators braved the snowdrifts and frigid temps to watch the fun.
“It’s a sport that a lot of people are intrigued to try, and once they try it, they’re hooked,” says organizer Sarah Broussard. “Last year, we pulled in a lot of local people who just wanted to have some fun. It’s important to us to continue providing a place for the community to come out and enjoy themselves on New Year’s weekend.”
Derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring meaning “ski driving,” skijoring is a winter sport that combines skiing and horseback riding. The sport consists of a horse pulling a skier through an obstacle course, all while hitting jumps that range in size from three to nine feet high. Competitors are judged based on how long it takes for them to run the track — the quicker the time, the better the score. Participants receive penalties for gates and rings missed along the course.
Teams will compete in three classes, Open, Sport and Novice, vying for cash prizes, as well as a Costume class for entertainment. A newly designed curved track will be built for this year’s competition.
“We’re excited to be running a curved track this year,” Sarah says. “It will be more challenging for the riders and skiers than last year’s straight track. It’s also more spectator-friendly because there’s better visibility up and down the course.”
Those fastest finishers will be awarded a total prize purse in excess of $20,000, funded by sponsorships. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Halt Cancer at X, an initiative created by Sarah that raises funds for breast cancer research and support services.
Any takers, EN? Registration information is available here. Volunteers are also needed, with duties to include course maintenance, gatekeeping, backup timing, warm up and ground crew. Shifts are four hours long and during that time, volunteers can enjoy free hot cocoa and coffee along with free entry to the event. Please sign up online here or contact Heidi at [email protected] or (406)270-3889.
Spectator admission is $5 and prime viewing is available right along the course. Kids are welcome (and free if under 13 years) at this family-friendly event, along with well-behaved, four-legged friends. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from local vendors, and Skijoring Stout, developed specifically for the Rebecca Farm event last year by Kalispell Brewing Company, will be on tap.