Cowboys and skiers: Horse Skijoring gallops through Minnesota

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All the recent snowfall in Minnesota lends itself perfectly to a competition you may not know even existed: Horse Skijoring.

Skijoring involves skiers and snowboarders hanging onto a rope, lining up behind a horse and working as a team down the course grabbing rings, going over jumps and trying to make it to the finish line.

Thousands of people from around the country descended on Canterbury Park in Shakopee to take in the action Saturday.

In Skijoring, the traditions of Scandanavia meet Minnesota as the seemingly tranquil life of the country is married ever so perfectly to the adrenaline-driven culture of skiing.

“It’s totally two different worlds,” said Mike Fries, a Skijoring veteran. “You’ve got the hardcore cowboy world and the hardcore skier world. And when they come together, it’s an awesome camaraderie.”

Some people like Fries have been Skijoring for nearly two decades.

“Every time that horse starts rearing, your heart starts pumping and that thing takes off,” Fries said. “And you better be hanging on or you’re going to be on the ground.”

While difficult, the sport is not just for the experienced.

“She likes horses and I like adrenaline,” said Mykayla Docktor, a Skijoring novice.  

Docktor and Sierra Doble have been Skijoring for about two months after they just heard about the sport.

“We’ve been cooped up all winter,” Doble said. “They don’t like to be cooped up and neither do we, so it just gave us something to do.”

Though both grew up around horses, neither one spent any time on skis until now.

“Well, the first time we tried to go behind a horse was on a snowboard and the next day, I couldn’t get up, so we tried skis,” Docktor said. “The skis worked a lot better.”

Just two months later, Mikayla and Sierra joined hundreds of others gathered at Canterbury Park to blend the cowboy culture and ski culture every so perfectly.

Saturday, competitors participated in novice, youth, open and freestyle categories.

If you missed Saturday’s action, you can find another competition next weekend in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.