Indian Relay: 'Magical' racing in the mountains | CNN (2022)

Indian Relay: 'Magical' racing in the mountains | CNN (1)

Indian Relay —

Fast and frenetic, Indian Relay is a sport in which riders, including Jon Marc (pictured,) compete for pride and prize money, with no saddles or race helmets.

Indian Relay: 'Magical' racing in the mountains | CNN (2)

Crazy horses —

To the untrained eye, it can look like sheer unmitigated chaos as changeovers of horses take place every lap during a three-lap race.

Indian Relay: 'Magical' racing in the mountains | CNN (3)

Life in the fast lane —

Speed and horsemanship are essential as riders like Zack Rock (pictured) go hell for leather in a bid to cross the line in first place.

(Video) Inappropriate Moments Shown On LIVE TV! 😲
Indian Relay: 'Magical' racing in the mountains | CNN (4)

Crowd pleasers —

The stands are packed in areas across Idaho and Montana for many of the events on the calendar.

Indian Relay: 'Magical' racing in the mountains | CNN (5)

Cultural roots —

According to those immersed in the sport, horses are a key part of what makes the tribes tick.

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Story highlights

Indian Relay is a fast-paced, high action sport reserved to the Rocky Mountain West

Little-known outside the tribes, it is arguably America's best kept sporting secret

Riders race without saddles and helmets in a frenetic relay involving man and beast

The sport is beginning to gain greater acclaim, with a documentary made about it


Indian Relay might just be America’s best-kept sporting secret.

Little-known outside the tribes of the Rocky Mountains in the northwest, it’s a “magical” mix of horse racing, track-and-field relay and the all-action adrenalin of rodeo.

Each race is battled out by up to six jockeys over three laps of a track – and the riders have to change horses every lap.

With handlers for each horse, it creates a melee of 18 horses and 24 people. It is pure, unadulterated and unpredictable chaos.

To add a further twist, they don’t use saddles or helmets, and the danger element adds to the “rock star” esteem in which the jockeys are held by their communities.

Kendall Old Horn has been involved in the sport for 37 years – first as a rider back in 1978 and now as a team owner after returning after 21 years away, following a five-year stint in the Marine Corps.

“I don’t know how to sell the sport but what I do know is that it’s a fast-paced, high-action sport,” he explains. “The adrenalin rush is the biggest buzz you can imagine.

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“You can’t beat that feeling, there’s nothing like it. It’s better than any high that you can experience, if you’d done anything like that. For me, it’s America’s best-kept secret as a sport.”

Horses are a way of life for the Native American tribes of Montana, where Old Horn is based.

“I’ve been around horses from the day I hit the ground,” he says. Horses are very therapeutic. They take away the everyday stresses of life.

“I was away from Indian Relay for 21 years but I was never away from horses. They’re a part of me.”

The Blackfoot Nation is a Native American territory in Montana.

Tribal elder Carol Murray admits Indian Relay is little known nationwide but describes the sport as “magical.”

“It’s the spirit of the animals and the spirit of the people coming together. But what amazes me is the effect it has on the spectators as well,” explains Murray, whose son used to race and whose grandson is now entering the sport as a rider.

“You see the faces of the families watching and it’s understandable how excited they are supporting their family members or their teams. But you look across the crowds at races and everyone’s just so involved. It’s a magical sport.”

Murray has helped it gain slightly wider acclaim after being introduced to American filmmaker Charles Dye, who last year released a documentary called “Indian Relay.” It takes an in-depth look at the sport and the characters within it, including Murray and Old Horn.

The project was a labor of love for Dye, who spent the first of the four years it took to complete trying to gain the trust of the communities – no mean feat when there is a mistrust of outsiders.

But gradually Dye managed to get a true insight into the lives of those who eat, sleep and breathe the sport, in communities which are often very poor and where adult unemployment can be as high as 80%.

“Some of these are super-duper poor communities and in some cases without Indian Relay some of the young kids would fall into trouble,” he says.

Dye had some prior knowledge of Indian Relay but admits his project became less about the sport and more about the people, the tribes and the communities it touches.

“You feel like you’re falling off the edge of the world,” says Dye, who followed teams from the Shoshone-Bannock Nation in Idaho and the Crow and Blackfoot Nations.

“You’re in the wild west with no real connection to the rest of the world. It’s quite magical. My film was not so much about horse racing, I guess, as the rural west.”

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However, the film does capture the madness of the racing and the horse exchanges – which occur with rider and animal moving at full pelt.

“These are top horses often at the ends of their career,” Dye explains. “So they’re obviously going at some speed.

“There’s dangers but not as many people get hurt as you might think. I think the whole time I was there I saw one hospitalization and the guy was fine in the end.”

Old Horn admits that “nobody went into this sport and didn’t get hurt” but points out the injuries are relatively low because of the expertise of those involved.

“You need to have an incredibly high level of horsemanship both by the riders and those on the ground,” he says. “We don’t wear helmets and saddles as we’re considered some of the best horse people on the face of the earth.

“If we wore those, we’d be a laughing stock. That’s our pride and we take great pride in it.”

Indian Relay is immersed in the middle of its season, with races virtually every weekend. Prize money is on offer but the amounts are relatively small, particularly given how far funds have to stretch among the team setup.

But Old Horn says it is not about the money: “It’s about the pride, about the bragging rights when you win over the other tribes.”

Murray echoes the overriding element of pride, but admits that watching her family members race at breakneck speed can be a harsh experience. Her faith in their horse-handling, however, makes it easier viewing.

“It is nerve wracking,” she says. “I remember seeing my son Little Plume ride for the first time. He really wanted to ride but had to wait to get picked. I was in the stands and suddenly my friend was like, ‘That’s your son racing.’

“I thought no-one would pick him and so it was like, ‘Oh my God.’ So from there it’s no turning back, I can’t stop him. Horses have always been in my family – it’s part of my life, an extension of me.

“And it’s so good. I remember how hard my son worked feeding, exercising the horses, doing everything that was required. It’s a special thing.”

Riders like Little Plume are “treated like rock stars,” says Dye, but only to a local audience.

“The funny thing is that in the next-door town some people won’t have even heard of it,” he adds.

It truly is America’s best-kept sporting secret.

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Where is the Indian Relay race? ›

The Indian Horse Relay at Canterbury Park began in 2013, when the SMSC was invited to the Apsaalooke Crow Nation to see their Native American horse racing event.

How does the Indian relay work? ›

Typically, Indian Relay is a three-horse sport, although there have been instances that involved four horses in a team. “Races begin with up to eight athletes riding bareback around a track at full speed. Once around, the riders barely slow as they leap from their horses to a second horse to continue the race.

What is Indian Relay racing? ›

Indian Relay Racing is a way for teams to compete for cash and prizes. Teams consist of one rider, three horses, two holders and a mugger. The race starts in front of the grandstands, with a standing start. Racers make one lap around the track, changing horses twice in front of the grandstands.

What type of horses are used in Indian relay races? ›

Teams are composed of four people and three horses. Team members are usually all from the same reservation, and often are members of the same family. Any breed of horse may be entered into the race, but thoroughbreds are the most common breed. Many are retired racehorses from the thoroughbred industry.

Who won the Indian relay 2022? ›

Auburn, WA – The $65,000 Muckleshoot Gold Cup Indian Relay Championship lived up to its billing with a very exciting race. In the end, it was Tyler Peasley and Omak Express crossing the finish line first.

Why is it called relay race? ›

The concept originated in ancient Greece, where a 'message stick' was passed along via a number of couriers. In modern times, a relay race is a track and field event listed in the Olympic Games under the 'athletics' programme.

How can I join Indian racing? ›

  1. Start off as young as possible.
  2. Enrol for basic training and get your license to compete.
  3. Get some regular professional training with a team.
  4. Try to get a sponsor early in your career.
  5. Enlist for smaller races to get practice.
  6. Focus on physical fitness to be a better racer.
23 Nov 2021

What are the three types of relay race? ›

The three standard relays raced at the Olympics are the 4 × 100 m freestyle relay, 4 × 200 m freestyle relay and 4 × 100 m medley relay.

What are the four types of relay race? ›

  • Types of Relay Races. There are four main events for the relays in track and field: ...
  • The 4 x 100 Meter. ...
  • The 4 x 200 Meter. ...
  • The 4 x 400 Meter. ...
  • The 4 x 800 Meter. ...
  • The 4 x 100 m Start Line. ...
  • The 4 x 200 m Start Line. ...
  • The 4 x 400 m Start Line.

Which race horse is the fastest? ›

Thoroughbred Winning Brew holds the Guinness world record for the fastest speed from the starting gate for a Thoroughbred racehorse, at 70.76 km/h (43.97 mph) over two furlongs, although Quarter Horses attain higher speeds over shorter distances than Thoroughbreds.

Which breed of horse is the fastest in India? ›

Thoroughbred is the most popular racing horse breed available in India, known for speed and spirit. The Thoroughbred also used for polo in India, show jumping and are considered hot blooded horses.

Which Indian horse breed is best for riding? ›

The Marwari is used for light draught and agricultural work, as well as riding and packing. In 1995, a breed society was formed for the Marwari horse in India. The exportation of Marwari horses was banned for decades, but between 2000 and 2006, a small number of exports were allowed.

Do Relays get medals? ›

Yes, as long as you swam at some point on the relay during the Olympics you'll receive whatever medal the team receives.

What is a mugger in an Indian relay race? ›

The mugger catches the incoming horse to allow the rider to dismount and leap onto the next horse. Each team must have control of all their horses at all time, and with several different teams on the track, it can get confusing but very exciting to watch. Watch PBS Indian Relay Film.

What are the benefits of relay games? ›

Five Reasons To Run A Relay Race
  • Run Far! But Not Too Far… ...
  • Bond With Friends. Nothing brings friends closer together like being trapped in the small confines of a relay van, covered in sweat, and smelling like a gym locker room. ...
  • Make New Friends. ...
  • Get Silly. ...
  • See New Sights, Explore New Places.
16 Jun 2016

How long are Indian Relay Races? ›

For those of you who are not familiar, Indian Relay is a highly competitive. traditional Native American sport that consists of four Warriors and three Thoroughbred/Quarter horses that compete on a half-mile circle race track.

Is there horse racing in Saskatoon? ›

Horse racing will be taking place every weekend until Sept. 25. The Moosomin Downs at Moosomin Plains would be located on a 124-acre piece of land just northwest of Saskatoon. Sasakamoose says the plan is to have the track and facilities built by 2023, with racing by the summer of that year.

What is another name for relay race? ›

What is another word for relay race?
49 more rows

Who is the fastest in a relay race? ›

4 × 100 metres relay
Athletics 4 × 100 metres relay
MenJamaica (Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt) 36.84 (2012)
WomenUnited States (Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter) 40.82 (2012)
Olympic records
7 more rows

What is the first runner in a relay called? ›

The sequence of the relay is usually set as such: the second fastest starts first, followed by the third fastest, slowest and then the fastest. The fastest runner is also known as the 'anchor'.

How much do Indian racers earn? ›

The average pay for an Automobile Racer is INR 515,774 a year and INR 248 an hour in India. The average salary range for an Automobile Racer is between INR 373,936 and INR 617,897.

Is being a racer expensive? ›

Racing is a pricey endeavor even at the entry level. This is exactly what you can expect to spend. Racing, even the most accessible grassroots variety, will never welcome casual participation int he same ways as baseball or tennis.

How do I start a career in racing? ›

You can follow these steps to become a professional race car driver:
  1. Develop your driving skills. To compete against professional race car drivers, you must have excellent driving skills. ...
  2. Join a racing club. ...
  3. Obtain a vehicle and equipment. ...
  4. Obtain a competition license. ...
  5. Practice and train. ...
  6. Look for a team or a sponsor.
25 Aug 2021

What are the examples of relay races? ›

Some non-Olympic relays are held at distances of 800 m, 3,200 m, and 6,000 m. In the less frequently run medley relays, however, the athletes cover different distances in a prescribed order—as in a sprint medley of 200, 200, 400, 800 metres or a distance medley of 1,200, 400, 800, 1,600 metres.

How many types of relays are there? ›

The three main types of relays are electromechanical, solid-state, and reed.

How do you win a relay race? ›

Make sure that they lean in and accelerate through the bend in the track. They will run slightly more than 100 meters to the first exchange zone. Make sure that the runner runs on the inside of their lane, on the left-hand side, so that they can pass the baton to the next runner's left hand.

What is the rules of relay? ›

The baton can only be passed within the exchange zone, which is 20 meters long. Exchanges made outside the zone—based on the position of the baton, not the runners' feet—result in disqualification. Passers must remain in their lanes after the pass to avoid blocking other runners.

What is the last person in a relay race called? ›

The anchor leg is the final position in a relay race. Typically, the anchor leg of a relay is given to the fastest or most experienced competitor on a team. The athlete completing the anchor leg of a relay is responsible for making up ground on the race-leader or preserving the lead already secured by their teammates.

What is the fastest 4 by 4 relay? ›


What horse has never lost a race? ›

Kincsem. Kincsem may not be a name that everyone will recognize, but with a record of 54-0, you can't argue her greatness. Born on March 17, 1874, in Kisbér, Hungary, Kincsem has the longest undefeated record of any racehorse ever. As a filly, she won races in Hungary, England, France, and Germany.

Who is the most famous horse in history? ›

Secretariat is widely considered the most famous ever. Due to his unrivaled horse racing career, numerous equine awards and status in Hollywood, almost everyone knew of this horse. When Secretariat became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25, the world sat up and took notice.

Who is the best horse of all time? ›

Secretariat (1973)

Along with Man o' War, he is considered to be the best horse of all time. Even ESPN counted Secretariat as on of the Top 50 Athletes of the 20th Century during their countdown in 1999. As a two-year-old, he won six of eight starts, with one being via disqualification at the Champagne Stakes.

Which is the most beautiful horse breed in India? ›

Let's have a look at the 10 most beautiful horse breeds:
  • Arabian Horse. Arabian horses have a long and distinguished history when it comes to classic horse breeds. ...
  • Friesian Horse. ...
  • Akhal-Teke Horse. ...
  • Gypsy Vanner Horse. ...
  • Haflinger Horse. ...
  • Appaloosa Horse. ...
  • Mustang Horse.
10 May 2022

What is the most beautiful horse in the world? ›

The famous perlino Akhal-Teke stallion Kambarbay has been declared numerously as the most beautiful horse in the world!

What are Indian horses called? ›

Although the settlers called most horses raised by the American Indians "cayuse ponies", the Cayuse Indian Pony of the Northwest is a distinct breed which originated in the 1800's. Its conformation and its background set it apart from the mustang, Spanish Barb or other wild horses.

What is the smoothest riding horse in the world? ›

The Paso Fino is known as "the smoothest riding horse in the world." 2. Paso Finos' unique gait is natural and super-smooth.

What is the most comfortable horse to ride? ›

Gaited horses tend to be used more for pleasure riding and driving versus track racehorses that are trained for speed.
  • 01 of 10. Icelandic Horse. ...
  • 02 of 10. American Saddlebred. ...
  • 03 of 10. Paso Fino. ...
  • 04 of 10. Peruvian Paso. ...
  • 05 of 10. American Standardbred. ...
  • 06 of 10. Tennessee Walking Horse. ...
  • 07 of 10. ...
  • 08 of 10.
18 Jul 2022

Where did the relay race start? ›

The concept of relays was originated in Ancient Greece where a message stick was delivered via a series of couriers. The first modern relay races were organized by the New York fire service in the 1880s as the charity races in which red pennants were passed on instead of a baton over every 300 yards.

When did Indian relay races start? ›

Indian Relay racing began around a century ago but its origins stretch back more than 300 years to when tribes like the Shohone and Bannock first climbed onto the backs of horses acquired from the Spanish. "That's what we survived on," says LaGrande Coby, president of the Fort Hall Indian Relay Association.

What happened to Indian F1 circuit? ›

The circuit was best known as the venue for the annual Formula One Indian Grand Prix, which was first hosted in October 2011. However, the Grand Prix was suspended for 2014 and subsequently cancelled due to a tax dispute with the Government of Uttar Pradesh during the Akhilesh Yadav administration.

Who is the fastest runner in a relay? ›

4 × 100 metres relay
Athletics 4 × 100 metres relay
MenJamaica (Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt) 36.84 (2012)
WomenUnited States (Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter) 40.82 (2012)
Olympic records
7 more rows

Which are the two types of relay races? ›

Circular Relay – 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m. Four athletes per team, with each athlete having to run 100m or 400m around the track. Swedish Medley Relay – 1000m. Four athletes per team with each athlete running one of 100, 300,200, 400m legs in that order.

Which leg is the fastest in a relay race? ›

The anchor leg is the final position in a relay race. Typically, the anchor leg of a relay is given to the fastest or most experienced competitor on a team.

What happens if you drop the baton in a relay race? ›

Precision is important when passing a baton during a relay race, as fumbling would cause a team to lose seconds in a race where every moment counts, while dropping a baton would result in disqualification.

Why was India removed from F1? ›

Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone expected India to host a Grand Prix within three years, aiming for locating at either Hyderabad or Mumbai. In the end these projects were never realised, possibly owing to anti-tobacco legislation, and a change in government policy.

Why did Force India left F1? ›

The FIA excluded the former Force India entry from the championship "due to its inability to complete the season", and welcomed the new entity (Racing Point Force India F1 Team) that was able to race in the Belgian Grand Prix, but was not allowed to retain any points of the old team.

Was Indian F1 track good? ›

The Buddh International Circuit is a track that was built for racing, receiving accolades from not only Lewis Hamilton himself who called it 'fantastic', but also from other racing greats like Nico, Timo, Sebastian, Fernando Mark, Adrian and Michael.

Who is the slowest person in a relay? ›

Third runner: The slowest athlete of the four athletes, who now receives the baton, 10 metres past the 200 metre mark and passes it 10 metres back (110 metres mark).

What is the most important leg in a relay? ›

4th Leg Runner- The 4th leg or anchor leg of the relay is considered by many to be the most important. As such, this leg is often comprised of the fastest and toughest athlete on the relay team.

Which leg is the longest in the 4x100? ›

Second leg

This is often one of the longest legs and it demands great speed endurance. It usually goes to a strong 200-metre runner and, since they receive and pass the baton with their left hand, they must also be very good at handling the stick.


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