Indigenous relay race steeped in tradition, cultural significance

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Indigenous relay racing is a fast and frenetic display of horse riding that has a long history in cultural significance.

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The sport, known as the Indian relay, is similar to an Olympic relay race, except that a team of runners takes turns, with a rider who switches between three different horses. does. Both the rider and the animal are typically decorated with traditional indigenous costume and images, such as handprints and stripes.

The horses are well ridden, with jockeys jockeying with sheer strength and skill during laps of the track while galloping at full speed. The jockey then jumps off the horse as he moves to a halt and jumps onto a new horse for the next lap.


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Three other team members act as supports: the rider holds the first horse as the rider finishes a lap, the setter stabilizes the second horse for the rider, while a back-holder controls the third horse as the rider finishes a lap. It waits for its turn. Teams compete with at least four others during a race.

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The indigenous relay has long been popular in the US and has gained momentum in Canada, making its debut in 2017 at the Calgary Stampede. The relay racing circuit runs throughout western Canada throughout the summer. This included a two-day Extreme Indian Relay event at the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton in September. Jason Durrey and his team, Pretty Young Man from the Siksika First Nation, near Calgary, were among the contestants.

As the owner of the team, Mr. Dore himself does not participate in the race. He loves the action and athleticism of relay racing, but says it’s the opportunity to reunite with extended family while camping over several days of competition that he enjoys the most.

“It’s the family-weaving gathering that’s nice about it, because everyone comes,” says Mr. Doure. “They all gather in a race. Sometimes we’ll have dinner.”

It is also a family gathering on the track.

Mr. Doure’s nephew Tyler Leather is the team’s jockey. Jarrett is the eldest son of the Pretty Young Man, Mr. Dorr, and his wife Lewis, the robber, while son Brooker serves as the Pretty Young Man-setter. Mr. Doure’s nephew Rufus is the back-holder of the Pretty Young Man Junior team.

In indigenous relay races, the actions of each team member must be perfectly coordinated and performed at top speed.

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Completing just one race is a huge achievement. And though every precaution is taken, there is always the possibility of something going wrong. But for members of the Pretty Young Man team, the excitement of racing is well worth the risk.

“It’s just a thrill – adrenaline,” says Mr. Doure. “We love running horses.”

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