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Festival of the Ages Kyoto 2013

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Indian Relay Championships Sheridan Wyoming

The rules of Indian relay racing are simple. Teams are made up 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 horses are
the most common breed. Many are retired racehorses. Only one team member is the jockey, riding all three horses in succession.

Another team member serves as the “grabber,” catching each finishing horse as the jockey dismounts. The other two team members are “holders” who try to contain and quiet the second and third horses until it’s time for their leg of the relay.

All races are ridden bareback. The race starts from a mark on the track rather than from a starting gate and jockeys remain afoot until a starter signals them to mount their first horse and the race begins.

The origins of Indian relay races are buried in history. However, it is believed that riding horses in relays originated as a way of getting messages of approaching enemies back to tribal chiefs as fast as possible. The earliest competitions are believed to date from meetings between Indians and mountain men in such places as the Green River and Wind River in
Wyoming USA.