Clip on the skis, saddle up the horse and round up a partner this weekend for the second annual Silverton Skijoring Festival.
On Saturday and Sunday, teams of skiers in tow of horseback riders will collect rings and hit jumps while racing down a 250-yard stretch of historic Blair Street.
I hope people will come out, said event organizer Pete Maisel. The weathers supposed to be beautiful its warming up, blue skies, lots of snow, and its fun.
Maisel has high hopes of establishing the festival as an enduring tradition. Last year, 250 people attended the festival, with a total of 10 to 12 teams. Maisel said hes expecting double the attendance and participation this year.
Registration will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the Bent Elbow Restaurant for $25 per participant. Latecomers can register before the 10 a.m. event Saturday for an extra $10.
All registration fees will go directly to the first- and second-place winners a sum of $2,000 last year.
Horse ownership is not required to participate, Maisel said. Skiers can get in line for a draw Saturday night to match up with a horse and rider.
Theyre not just your average horses, he said. A lot of them are horses that have been raced and are good mountain horses.
Owners from across the state will bring their horses, and one equine will come from Idaho, Maisel said. Attracting a horse owner from Idaho is one sign of the events growing popularity, he said.
The only injury last year was to a participant who suffered a separated shoulder, Maisel said. No horses were harmed in the race.
We have a very good, well-known large-animal vet whos on scene and stays on scene both days, and we also have the Silverton ambulance, he said.
EMTs also will be present.
The biggest safety concern is peoples dogs, which can be harmed by spooked horses midrace, also posing a threat to event participants, Maisel said, recommending spectators leave their dogs at home.
Skijoring for sport originated several hundred years ago in Scandinavia. By 1949, it had made its way across the Atlantic and began an annual competition in Leadville.