Putting the “Wild” in Wild Horse Racing

The winning Kyle Harstad team of Red Deer competing at the Ponoka Stampede; notice the handhold on the halter. Photo by Mike Copeman

The sport of wild horse racing is a throwback to the days before chutes. Actually, to the days before rodeo was a sport. The premise is simple: a three-man team (shank man, mugger and rider) must saddle and ride a bronc across the finish line or around a barrel. Oh, and did I mention all of the horses are released at the same time?

The sport has undergone some changes in the last few years. For one, the halters have been modified with a handhold, and “earing down” a horse is now forbidden. The saddle has also been modified with the addition of handholds, rather than grabbing a handful of mane to swing into the saddle.

The sport is an add-on event at rodeos that range from Princeton, B.C., to the massive Ponoka Stampede. Often the horse wins, as it can use any means it wants to escape. It’s wild, dangerous, and not for the faint of heart — but still, the competitors come back.

To find out more, visit the Canadian Wild Horse Racing Association.