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Faith Stock Show & Rodeo will host the Horse Nations Indian Relay Council Races this weekend at the 108th celebration
Courtesy Photo
Faith Stock Show & Rodeo will host the Horse Nations Indian Relay Council Races this weekend at the 108th celebration

Indian Relay Races combine skill, bravery, endurance

F.Ganje - August 10, 2018

FAITH, SD – If you’ve got skill, knowledge, bravery and culture behind you, then you might be an Indian relay rider. With centuries of the warrior spirit and the honored place held by the horse in Native culture, the evolution of Indian Relay Races has been a natural.

Calvin Ghost Bear, president of the Horse Nations Indian Relay Council (HNIRC), says it’s a fierce competition, grueling endurance, and strong bonds that spectators will see at the Indian Relay Races during the Faith Stock Show and Rodeo, August 7-12 2018.

“How it’s evolving is getting a lot more attention,” he says. “That’s translated to increasing prize money.”  He adds, “I think that’s good for the sport – not only for the extreme sport that it is but it also gives young, Native American participate an avenue to show their skills and to make money and do well.”

The cultural connection to the horse among Native people is an important part of the oral history, handed down from one generation to the next, says Ghost Bear. And it’s evident in today’s sport of Indian Horse Racing.

“We’ve always been a horse nation, including the culture of the horse and everything about them,” he reflects.  “It’s only fitting that we take some of the horse games and the horse honor songs our ancestors created continue today.”

What makes up a successful relay team? Is it the horses? The rider? Others on the track? Ghost Bear explains it this way as he readies for the Faith Stock Show & Rodeo where races are set for Saturday and Sunday, August 11-12, 2018.

“It’s a combination of the skill and endurance of everyone involved,” he says.  “And a little luck.”

The athlete that is both horse and rider is a year-round training commitment, says Ghost Bear.
“Both horse and rider train year round.  You can’t take a horse from some pasture and expect it will have the disposition and temperament to be an Indian relay horse.”  He goes on, “Riders are athletes by nature.  They have to be to have the mental discipline and physical endurance that’s required in the sport.”

At the Faith Stock Show and Rodeo, categories in the Horse Nations Relay Race include Chief, Warrior and Maiden. With  $8,000 added money, the competition will be keen.  Winners also earn a berth at the Championship of Champions  Indian Relay Races in Walla Walla, WA in September.

“These teams come from Canada and the United States.  Team standings are pretty fluid so it’s difficult to have an educated guess about who is going to the finals.” He adds, “But it’s a sure bet that each Indian Relay Race offers a rare glimpse into the Native past of leaders, warriors and as a sport-loving people – and see it play out in today’s Indian Relay sporting event.”

Indian Relay Races get underway at 2:30pm Saturday, August 11, 2018 with the Finals set for Sunday, August 12, 2018 beginning at 1:00pm.  See more on line at http://www.horsenationsrelay.com/ and on Facebook.

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