Casper will host the international championship Indian horse relay races this fall, representatives of organizers, sponsors and the Horse Nations Relay Council said Friday.
“We will be bringing in the relay here to Casper Sept. 25th, 26, and 27th; that will be our year-end championship,” said Calvin Ghost Bear, president of the Horse Indian Nations Relay Council at a news conference at the Natrona County Fairgrounds.
The championship at the Fairgrounds will bring about 40 teams from the United States and Canada, plus youth, women, individual warrior events, dancers, drummers, and opportunities for honoring veterans, Ghost Bear and others at the news conference said.
The three-day event also will include a teepee, Native American food,
Each team consists of three horses, one rider, a mugger [ a catcher] and two holders, Ghost Bear said.
The rider takes off and runs a lap with the first horse, the holders have the next horse and keep it calm, and the mugger catches the incoming horse when the rider dismounts and jumps on the next horse, and the best horse is saved for the last lap.
Four to six teams compete in a race, Ghost Bear said.
The championship had been held in Walla Walla, Wash., for the past two years.
The organization had been looking for a new venue with a more central location, and the local Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau had reached out to it, too, Ghost Bear said. The Northern Arapaho Business Council and the Wind River Hotel & Casino are among the other sponsors of the races.
Indian horse racing has been around for centuries.
Each tribe has its own history with its own version of horse racing, said Ghost Bear, a Lakota Sioux from the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. His tribe has held races in downtown Deadwood, S.D., he added.
The Horse Indian Nations Relay Council formed five years ago, he said. “It’s growing pains, but at the same time it’s meeting great people in the communities.”
The races promote youth and healthy lifestyles, he said.
Fairgrounds manager Tom Jones said the horse races will be another attraction Casper can offer.
“We want this to grow and get bigger and bigger,” Jones said.