Two horses have died as the result of injuries in skijoring accidents only a week apart in Colorado in the US.
At a competition in Leadville last weekend, Jesslyn (JJ) Swirka of Fairplay was riding her quarter horse gelding Logan and pulling Leadville resident Duffy Counsell behind on skis down the town’s main street. Thousands were watching as Logan took a false step and crashed, breaking his leg. The competition was suspended after the accident.
The week before in Minturn, rider Lenny Hay of Wyoming, riding Pepper and dragging sport skier Colin Cook of Montana, had completed the course for the February 27 competition, when Pepper took “an unfortunate misstep at the end,” according to event organizer Loren Zhimanskova of Skijor International.
The sport of skijoring consists of a team of a single horse, generally guided by a rider, pulling the person on skis who carries no poles and simply hangs onto a tow rope in a manner akin to water skiing.
Skijoring behind a horse is said to have originated as a method of winter travel, but today is primarily a competitive sport. It was a demonstration sport in the 1928 Winter Olympics.
It was Logan’s third season skijoring. The 12-year-old gelding works as a roping/ranching horse for the rest of the year.
Just over $2000 was raised at Leadville’s Award ceremony to benefit JJ Swirka on behalf of the loss of Logan. Swirka is on the mend after the accident but sustained no serious injuries.