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Indian Relay Races bring viewers to their feet

“We love the adrenaline of the fast horses and the strength in them,” said Pikunii Express rider, Narsis Reeves.

I’m told Indian relay racing originated with the Shoshone and Bannock tribes in Fort Hall.

“This race has been going on for years and years, it’s kind of like our tradition, so we keep it going like our ancestors tell us, keep it going, keep it going, so we did, you know, that’s what we’re doing now,” said Relay Association president, LaGrand Coby.

The fast action sport consists of three horses and four team members.
A rider, mugger and two holders. The rider must complete three laps around the race track while switching to a new horse at the beginning of each new lap.

“It’ll get your blood going, I’ll tell you that, the crowd helps that,” said Coby.

The holders are in charge of the two horses helping them stay focused and ready for when the rider hops on for their lap. The mugger catches the horse once the lap is finished, helping the rider jump-off with ease, so he can quickly jump on the next one. Some things that help the rider when it comes to their horses are…

“How fast they are and how good the horses are standing,” said Coby.

For many of these riders, they’ve grown up watching the sport and have a personal connection with the tradition.

“Learn to love to ride, when you learn to love to ride, everything, it all falls into place,” said Reeves.

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