As an equestrian, I have to wonder what kind of horse sports ESPN is supporting with their recent choice to profile the Chilcotin Nation’s downhill race. In the wake of plenty of other horse sports shunned by the Humane Society of the United States, America’s ‘Suicide Race’ phenomenon is among one of many that are quite unsavory to watch. It seems the ESPN loves writing about speed, speed, and speed when it comes to horse sports, but doesn’t seem to care much for tactical merit and adrenaline rush of show jumping or cross-country (I genuinely understand that dressage would be too slow). In a recent article, the tagline reads, “Mountain racing riders only know one way to go: all out” but what exactly is meant by “all out”?
Although not as steep as the famed (and feared) Omak suicide races, the horses are still galloped top-speed down rocky hills that are awe-inspiringly steep and quite precarious. The race, exactly like the Omak suicide race, involves galloping in and out of a body of water, and a lot flat gallop home over even terrain. So is this race comparable? Unlike the Omak, this race is only run with 4 horses (the Omaha is run with more than 10). Additionally, the inclined running space is remains the same width and incline for the entire ‘mountain’ portion of the race. I’m not actually sure how deep the water is where the Redstone Stampede mountain race is run, so I cannot speak to that, however there is no “chute” that racers must funnel through and the race is only held once a year (rather than 3 nights in a row). You’ve seen the Redstone stampede, now here is what the Omaha suicide race looks like:
So I guess what I’m wondering it, is ESPN unknowingly promoting an inhumane sport? Or are the two races distinctly different enough that I’m just being too sensitive?
Let me know in a comment!