Indian Relay: America’s First Extreme Sport

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History

Indian relay is America’s oldest sport. It dates back over 400 years to when the horse was first re-introduced to the native cultures of the America’s. Lakota culture insists that this was in fact the second coming of the horse and its reintroduction and in fact the relationship to the plains cultures and the horse is perhaps much older than that is realized. Archeology seems to support that view.

It appears that Indian relay developed independently amongst the Indian nations. Different cultures have different oral histories of its origins and most likely they are all true representations. To one tribe relay was used as war games, to another a relay to hunt the buffalo, to another a way to outrun the wild horses to enable their capture. Whatever the origins of relay the importance of it and of the horse to the plains cultures cannot be understated. The horse was transportation, it provided sustenance, it provided protection. The horse was considered sacred by many native cultures and revered by all. It was a major source of status and a most sought after prize. Relay provided the measure to test the horse, the rider, and the team.

Indian Relay is also America’s oldest competition, it’s first and most exciting test of skill. Today Indian relay is resurging as America’s newest extreme sport. Warriors racing at lightning speed, leaping from one galloping horse flying onto another, defying fear and gravity. Displaying the ultimate bond of horse and rider, when the two become one.


How Relay Works

INDIAN RELAY TEAM RACES

Each Team consists of 4 members:

  1. Rider
  2. Exchange Holder – holds the horse the rider mounts
  3. Mugger – catches the horse the rider jumps off
  4. Back Holder- secures the extra horse during horse rotation

Riders and Holders line up and await starting gunshot; Riders leap on horses and race three laps exchanging horses after each lap. Expect the unexpected, explosive action during the “Exchange!” Fifteen horses and 20 warriors are on the track at the same time working for that seamless exchange.

Team members will be dressed in tribal theme oriented regalia or traditional ribbon shirts while the rider regalia will display moccasins, breechcloths and/or leggings.

Prizes will be awarded for team relay tribal regalia including period hairstyle, feathers, roach or headdress, war horse decorations and body paint symbols representing personal vision or honors.

All horses will be marked with traditional tribal war paint and decorations in colors determined by team tradition which may include medicine and feathers and any distinguishing personal symbol, mark and color.

WARRIORS RACE – Lap Race: Warrior runs 100-yard dash and leaps onto his horse held by the Holder and races one entire lap to finish line.

LADIES RACE – Lap Race: Ladies gallop horses at full speed riding bareback around the track once to the finish line; a true test of horsemanship and courage.

JUNIORS RELAY RACE: Youth ages 11-15 years old will team relay race under the same format as adult relay only on ponies between 43”-52” inches on a modified track.

KIDS RELAY RACE: Kids ages 6-10 years old will team relay race under the same format as adult relay only on ponies under 43” inches on a modified track.


The Relay Event

Typically, a relay event will be run over 3 or 4 days with heats, or qualifying races run the first days and a championship and consolation on the final day. Payouts vary by venue. Races typically have been confined to the reservations, although Indian relay fans show great support and loyalty where ever it is run.

There are few rules in Indian relay and on many tracks anything goes. The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association, PIRHA, has added rules to protect the safety of the horse and rider.

The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association, PIHRA, is the organizing body of Indian Relay and represents over 50 Indian Relay teams and events. It main concern is the safety of the horses, spectators and participants. It seeks to develop relay in to an economic and athletic resource for the Native American cultures. It sanctions and supports individual relay events around the country. www.professionalindianhorseracingassociation.com


Schedule: 2016 PIHRA-Sanctioned Relay Races

  • Buffalo Days Indian Relay (PIHRA Opening Race) June 11-12, 2016 RECAP
  • Crow Native Days,  Crow Agency, MT, June 24-26, 2016
  • White River Relay, Busby, MT, June 26, 2016
  • 1st Annual Horse Spirit Extreme Indian Relay and Rough Stock Rodeo, Alberta, Canada, July 2-3, 2016
  • North American Indian Days Relay, Browning, MT July 7-9, 2016
  • Kainai Celebration Indian Relay, Red Crow Park, Standoff, Alberta Canada, July 16-17, 2016
  • Will James Relay, Hardin, MT,  July 17, 2016
  • Run With The Warriors Indian Relay, Pine Ridge, SD, August 6-7, 2016
  • Lower Brule Sioux Indian Relay, Lower Brule, SD, August 12-14, 2016
  • Crow Fair, Crow Agency, MT August 18-20, 2016
  • Fallon County Fair and Indian Relay, Baker, MT, August 19-21, 2016
  • Northwest Montana Fair at Kalispell Indian Relay, Kalispell, MT, August 19-21, 2016
  • Blackfoot Warrior Party, Strathmore Rodeo Grounds, Calgary, Canada,  August 27-28, 2016
  • North Central Washington District Fair and Relay, Waterville, WA, August 27-28, 2016
  • Ferry Crossing Pony Express Relay and Fair, Ferry Crossing, WA, Sept 2-4, 2016
  • All Nations Indian Relay Championships “National Finals Indian Relay,”  Billings, MT, Sept 22-25, 2016

(Schedule subject to change) – 3 to 5 more sanctioned races expected to be added to schedule.

Tickets for the above listed events are available at the venues. We recommend purchasing tickets for the Championships in advance.

GET TICKETS for National Championships

 


Purchase Merchandise

Official Professional Indian Horse Racing Association merchandise, such as caps, t-shirts, vests and jackets is made by PoloGear USA and may be purchased on the secure shopping site at

PoloGearUSA.com


Purchase Tickets

The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association’s sanctioned relay race 2016 season started in Buffalo, Wyoming and will end in Billings, Montana.

2016 ALL NATIONS INDIAN RELAY CHAMPIONSHIP  September 22-25, 2016, Billings, Montana

GET TICKETS

Relay Champion-Silver Mountain Team with owner/rider Dustin Kruger representing the Crow Nation from Lodge Grass, Montana. Photo credit: Diana Volk - Buffalo Days Indian Relay June 12-2016 PIHRA sanctioned event.

Relay Champion-Silver Mountain Team with owner/rider Dustin Kruger representing the Crow Nation from Lodge Grass, Montana. Photo credit: Diana Volk – Buffalo Days Indian Relay June 12-2016 PIHRA sanctioned event.

Junior Relay Team, Crazy Pony, representing the Crow Nation, won both days at Buffalo Days Indian Relay event, a PIHRA-sanctioned relay. Photo by Diana Volk

Junior Relay Team, Crazy Pony, representing the Crow Nation, won both days at Buffalo Days Indian Relay event, a PIHRA-sanctioned relay. Photo by Diana Volk

Ladies Race • Winner, SharMaine Weed representing the Eastern Shoshone Nation. Buffalo Days Indian Relay event June 12, 2016. PIHRA-Sanctioned event. Photo: Diana Volk

Ladies Race • Winner, SharMaine Weed representing the Eastern Shoshone Nation. Buffalo Days Indian Relay event June 12, 2016. PIHRA-Sanctioned event. Photo: Diana Volk


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The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association’s 2016 race season started in Buffalo, Wyoming and will end in Billings, Montana.

The All Nations Indian Relay Championships is the super bowl of Indian relay racing. It is the season ending race meet where the top teams are invited to determine the best team in the universe. To receive an invitation teams must compete all season long to earn points in PIHRA sanctioned events. Only the top 30 teams are invited to the championships. Teams also compete for additional prize money and the honor of season high point champion.

The All Nations Indian Relay Championships consists of 3 days of qualifying heats where all 30 teams race to determine who gets seated in the Sunday championships and consolations. Each day teams are divided into 6 heats of 5 teams each and they race head to head. The top 5 teams advance to the championships, the second 5 the consolations, and sub-consolations. Sunday the best race head to head to determine the best in the world and for $100,000 in cash and prizes.

Videos and photos of events may be seen and shared on the PIHRA Facebook page.


Schedule: 2016 PIHRA-Sanctioned Relay Races

(Schedule subject to change)

PROFESSIONAL INDIAN HORSE RACING ASSOCIATION

  • Buffalo Days Indian Relay (PIHRA Opening Race) June 11-12, 2016 RECAP
  • Crow Native Days, Crow Agency, MT, June 24-26, 2016
  • White River Relay, Busby, MT, June 26, 2016
  • 1st Annual Horse Spirit Extreme Indian Relay and Rough Stock Rodeo, Alberta, Canada, July 2-3, 2016
  • North American Indian Days Relay, Browning, MT July 7-9, 2016
  • Kainai Celebration Indian Relay, Red Crow Park, Standoff, Alberta Canada, July 16-17, 2016
  • Will James Relay, Hardin, MT, July 17, 2016
  • Run With The Warriors Indian Relay, Pine Ridge, SD, August 6-7, 2016
  • Lower Brule Sioux Indian Relay, Lower Brule, SD, August 12-14, 2016
  • Crow Fair, Crow Agency, MT August 18-20, 2016
  • Fallon County Fair and Indian Relay, Baker, MT, August 19-21, 2016
  • Northwest Montana Fair at Kalispell Indian Relay, Kalispell, MT, August 19-21, 2016
  • Blackfoot Warrior Party, Strathmore Rodeo Grounds, Calgary, Canada, August 27-28, 2016
  • North Central Washington District Fair and Relay, Waterville, WA, August 27-28, 2016
  • Ferry Crossing Pony Express Relay and Fair, Ferry Crossing, WA, Sept 2-4, 2016
  • All Nations Indian Relay Championships “National Finals Indian Relay,” Billings, MT, Sept 22-25, 2016
  • Black Hills Indian Relay, Rapid City, SD, Oct 7-9, 2016

Tickets for the above listed events may be purchased at the venue. We recommend purchasing tickets for the Championships in advance.

The VIP experience at the 2016 All Nations Indian Relay Championships-Sept 22-25th

Imagine celebrating the most exciting sporting event of the year in a private box affording the best view of the races and the jumbotron. Supported by close convenient access to a private club providing a choice buffet and private beverage service. Imagine a limited very select group of tribal officials, important sponsors and VIP’s with access to a wonderfully decorated, comfortable club like environment reserved for a very few discerning individuals. That is the Painted Pony Club at the 2015 All Nations Indian Relay Championships.

Only 220 spots, reserved for our most important sponsors, guests and VIP’s. Good food and drink, private trackside tables, good camaraderie, and wonderful hosts and hostesses. That is the painted pony club. Decorated as a celebration to Indian Relay. Conveniently located at the West End of the second floor of the MetraPark Grandstands. VIP parking. VIP access. VIP accommodations. VIP Experience.

Available only to a select few who appreciate the best.

Call or order on line to reserve you place with this unique group today. Season tickets only (for all 4 nights). Right of first refusal for next season. Call today.

Ticket Sales:
MetraPark: 800-366-8538 or 406-256-2422
The relays involve three-person teams.
The riders circle the track three times
on three different horses.

Get Tickets for the Championships

3 to 5 more sanctioned races expected to be added to schedule

Teams may get registration information here.

Indian Relay--the most exciting event you will ever see -- PIHRA-sanctioned. Credit-Diana Volk

Indian Relay–the most exciting event you will ever see — PIHRA-sanctioned. Credit-Diana Volk

Hermes Tall representing the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation from Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Hermes Tall representing the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation from Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

 

1 844-735-2977 or 1 (844) RELAY77

 

1 844-735-2977 or 1 (844) RELAY77