Extreme Horse Skijoring at Canterbury Park in Shakopee
What I love about Minnesotan’s is that we always embrace the season. And the perfect place to see one of the most trending sports in the state is at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. When I first heard Canterbury Park was doing an event like this, I had to check it out. It looked a little thrilling, plus I wanted to know exactly how something like this worked. The Extreme Horse Skijoring at Canterbury Park in Shakopee was nothing like I expected.
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What is Skijoring
Skijoring originated in Norway in the 19th century to get around faster. Some reports having it being used in military applications, while others for gold rushes. Either way, it soon came over to America to mimic dog sledding. You will often see people doing it with their family pets around the Lakes in Minneapolis. But for those that like to live life on the edge, there is Skijoring with Horses.
Extreme Horse Skijoring
Imagine being pulled by a horse as running at full speed. All the while, you need to complete different challenges, like navigating through gates, grabbing rings similar to a jouster and then going on jumps. All the obstacles are set up in slalom fashion. While this is going on, your getting different amounts of tension on the rope pulling you. It combines the best parts of a rodeo, skiing, and the X-Games. This is one event that has something for everyone.
Ninety-Nine percent of the contestants were all locals, from all around Minnesota. Surprising a lot were from towns like Minneapolis, Hopkins, Andover, and Chanhassen. I’d love to know how they got into this. The stands were filled with racers’ family and friends. The whole time we were watching we could hear the shouts of support from loved ones. It was amazing. It reminded me of attending my Brothers Bike Races as a kid.
The competition started with novices. These are people that have not won a completion before, making it the largest heat. Next up were the kids, followed up with the extreme portion. The top contestants will all come back for the finals at the end. If your kids have a limited attention span, it is perfectly acceptable to come 15-30 minutes late.
Challenges for the Spectators
One of the most frustrating parts about the Extreme Horse Skijoring at Cranbury Park was everyone seemed to know what going on but me. Before the event started we saw a brief video about the history of the sport and some highlights of past competitions. The announcers did little in the way of telling you how the competition worked. I kept looking for more information on the brochure or anything else to tell us what was going on.
The Official Rules of Extreme Horse Skijoring
A few days later, I finally found the official rules for the competition. The event is all based on time. The goal is to get from one end to the other in the fastest time. Skipping different elements, like rings, gates or jumps will cause a competitor to incur 1-2 second penalties. This is why you see some people bypassing elements all together. The skier don’t need the rope in their hands while they cross the finish line.
Riders need to be in western attire. The skiers, on the other hand, anything was fair game. There were plenty of people going for style points.
Another disappointing part about the event was there was no leaderboard. Canterbury Park has so many great tools at its disposal; I figured leaderboards would be part of it. At the end of the first few heats, they did announce the leaders. Having a visual representation would have kept everyone more engaged in the competition. Without it, we just sat back and watch people ski.
The X Factor of Skijoring
The big thrills came from the Extreme Freestyle portion of the event. Instead of doing a bunch of obstacles, the skiers or snowboarders are pulled as fast as possible up a hill and are launched off it. This is where the freestyle portion kicks in. They’ll complete a bunch of flips and other tricks as they land on the other side. If there was any part of the completion you don’t want to miss, this is it. Actually, if you get in the winner’s circle, it’s even cooler! Trust me.
Weiner Dog Races
I’m not sure why watching a bunch of Weiner Dogs is always so funny, but this even tops them all. They are all armatures, starting at the top of the ski jump. With the owners at the bottom cheering them all, all the dogs ran down the hill. Or not depending on the dog. It was hilarious.
Wear your cold-weather gear. No matter how warm it is outside. There was ice and standing water on a lot of the ground still. After fifteen minutes, everyone that wasn’t wearing boots was feeling it in their feet.
The crowd spends most of the day chasing the sunny seats. When you select your seat, make sure there is plenty of sun on both sides of you, otherwise, you’ll be looking for a new spot in a few minutes.
If you have a large group, get there early and claim your seats. Or consider getting the premium seats inside.
Don’t forget to move around. Go inside to warm up and watch the action on the screens. Or walk down by the winner’s circle and see the action from the ground.
Buy tickets online. I normally recommend this for more events but at Extreme Horse Skijoring, you defiantly want to. We were not 100% sure we were going to attend, so we decided to buy tickets at the gates. There were long lines and tickets that cost a few dollars more.
Would I watch Extreme Horse Skijoring again?
I would definitely go again if I am free that weekend. Kids were free, making it a low-cost activity for the family. There were a few laughs, a few thrills, and the weather was beautiful. Don’t forget to check out other fun things to do in Shakopee MN.