You think horses just race on dirt tracks and synthetic surfaces? Well, think again

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  • You think horses just race on dirt tracks and synthetic surfaces? Well, think again

You think horses just race on dirt tracks and synthetic surfaces? Well, think again

It is not only in the contemporary times that almost anything is possible. A lot was done in times gone by which surprises us even now. The horse racing industry has not taken a back seat in this regard. Back in the 1940s and during the winter season, people were drawn out of their cozy homes into the open to watch the horses race on frozen tracks.

Take Poland for one. The country’s Middle Range Pond was a hot spot in winters where horse racing fans would gather to watch the horses race on ice. However, the horses did not have all the fun alone. For the purposes of racing, the horses had sulkies attached, which supported the drivers. These were the same horses that raced on green grounds during the summer time. Their excellent speed and stamina made it easy for them to compete in the tough climatic conditions that winter brought along with it.

We can also find some documented evidence of ice horse racing. For instance, on 25th January of the year 1947, the Lewiston Evening Journal  reported of horse racing matches to take place on ice. The participating horses belonged to the Gardiner area. According to the report, “A quarter mile space has been cleared and the finish line will be in front of the boathouse near the highway.”    

The journal also named the horses that were to take part in the ice horse racing. They were six in all and were called  Lou Hal, Takoma Hanover, Ripple Lee, Jolly Worthy, Rex Tide and Provocative. There is no mention of betting in the story but it can be speculated quite safely that it did take place as wagering has been linked with the horse racing industry for a pretty long time now.

As the story goes, the participating horses competed against each other in pairs. This step was taken in order to reduce risk involved in making more horses run on frozen grounds. The precaution ensured the safety of the horses as well as the spectators. The 1947 journal also has  a photograph showing two race horses sprinting towards the finish line. The event under discussion was scheduled to take place on a Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. On the 26th of January.

Another report talks about horse racing on the Androscoggin River. This time period is that of the early 1900s. The story holds the sport to have a high level of popularity in that region. However, horse racing experienced a demise in that area because of the construction of the Gulf Island Dam. The Dam caused the level of the river to fluctuate for the purposes of generating electricity, which in turn made it unsafe to make the horses run on ice whose solidness could not be ensured.

For those of you who are thinking that an entertaining form of sport has been lost forever, do not despair. Ice horse racing is still being practiced. Switzerland holds a horse racing event at St. Moritz where the more affluent lot gather to see the magnificent horses race. The event is conducted in the month of February and lasts a period of three weeks. According to the norm, the races take place on the Sunday of the three weeks. The races include trotting and galloping competitions. More interestingly, the horse that succeeds in winning the ice racing crowns is given the title of ‘King of Engadine’.


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