Horse injured, euthanized during skijoring event
The World Invitational Skijoring races ended early on Sunday after a horse was injured on the course and was euthanized.
The two-day event was held over the weekend at Big Mountain Ranch in Whitefish in conjunction with the Whitefish Winter Carnival. Skijoring pairs a horse and rider with a skier being pulled through a course.
Skijoring committee member Mike Righetti said the horse was injured during the open-class competition - teams considered to have the highest skill level - with about 20 competitors left to go in that class.
“We got to open class, those guys work hard to go fast,” Righetti said. “We have a turn in our course and he hit the turn too hard.”
The horse stumbled and “rolled wrong,” he said, adding that the horse’s owner then elected to euthanize the animal.
“We did everything we could to make sure the horse was not in pain,” Righetti said.
He said skijoring event organizers work hard to make sure the course is safe, but added that the sport comes with a “known risk” of injury.
The decision to stop the races early was “done very methodically, very judiciously,” Righetti said.
Using a “very detailed process,” the committee of judges met and presented the situation to the remaining competitors.
“We voted first to go and inspect the course,” Righetti said. “Each competitor inspected the course, both skiers and riders, and we met again. They thought the course was fine.”
Two more votes were taken, and ultimately the horse riders decided to halt the competition.