The most exciting new event at this year’s Elko County Fair is the Indian Relay!
Teams (male event followed in Elko by a female event) race on horseback around the track three times, changing horses two times, and it’s chaotic!
Horses make it around the track the first time. 5-8 riders jump off their horses and run to the next horse and vault onto its back for the second turn around the track.
Ideally this would be a beautifully choreographed movement onto the next horse but you can imagine the confusion with 5-8 horses waiting for their next turn around the track, 5-8 handlers with those horses, 5-8 horses screeching into the area as they finish their first or second lap, and 5-8 riders running for their next horse and attempting a vault onto its back. All at the same time!
Janice and I watched the hour-long PBS video about Indian Relay (“Independent Lens, Indian Relay, PBS Video”) which highlights natives from Montana and Idaho and Shoshone/Bannock from Ft Hall, Idaho. The men from Ft. Hall rode bareback as did the women who rode.
Native Americans have great affinity to the horse. I love seeing their young people take pride in this activity which seems uniquely “Indian.”
Hope the Fair Board decides to invite our friends from Ft. Hall back next year.
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