America’s First Extreme Sport Attracts Fearless Warriors

America’s First Extreme Sport Attracts Fearless Warriors

Roles of Indian Relay team members explained

BILLINGS, Mont. – Indian Relay is touted as the “most exciting 3.5 minutes in Indian Country”. Wearing traditional regalia, Native American warriors ride bareback around the track at breathtaking speeds, leaping from one galloping horse to another, defying fear and gravity. Since the races are so high-speed and intense, many spectators may not realize how vital each team member is to having a successful relay; each person plays a huge part in this extreme sport, where one minor error can drastically change the outcome of the race.

Indian Relay appears to have developed independently in different tribes, leading to competitive relays between the nations and America’s first extreme sport. Today, Horse Nations compete against each other not in the spirit of warfare but for native pride and "bragging rights" of the individual nations. The races are not only a demonstration of bravery, courage and amazing horsemanship but also an important connection to a historical and spiritual element of their culture.

Indian Relay teams are comprised of four men: the rider (jockey), an exchange holder, a mugger (catcher) and a back holder. The rider must begin the race standing on the ground beside his first horse. At the gunshot start, he jumps on the horse and rides bareback around a half-mile track. As the rider completes his first lap and prepares to leap from one war pony to another, the exchange holder readies the second horse for the rider to jump onto while the mugger catches the incoming first horse released by the rider. During the exchange, holders must try to keep these strong, excited and unpredictable ponies from rearing up, flipping around or getting away, while the incoming horse may or may not stop for the mugger. The process is repeated two times to complete the relay – this is an intense relay where the rider is the baton! In each race, at least five teams work to execute these difficult bareback transfers, creating intense excitement among relay teams and spectators alike; this is why Indian Relay fans come back year after year.

The top teams representing 15 Indian nations will compete at the 2015 All Nations Indian Relay Championships for more than $75,000 in cash, travel, advance and prizes and the coveted Champions’ jackets and buckles. The teams come from Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Canada. The tribes represented in relay include Oglala Lakota Sioux, Blackfeet, Crow, Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Umatilla Confederated Tribes.

The All Nations Championships will also include Native American drummers and dancers, Warriors’ Races, Ladies Races and Kids Races, presentation of the colors, exhibits from artists and artisans, and traditional food to make for all-around entertainment experience in front of thousands of attendees.

For more information about PIHRA and the All Nations Indian Relay Championships, visit, follow “Professional Indian Horse Racing Association” on Facebook or checkout Indian Relay videos on YouTube.

For reservations and tickets, contact the MetraPark Grandstands box office at 800-366-8538 or go to
For press information and media kit, visit or call Nancy Harrison at 307.421.4473.
For event information and sponsorships contact Kris Keck at 908.303.5137.
“Let’s Relay!”


Professional Indian Horse Racing Association
CONTACT: Nancy Harrison
TEL: 307.421.4473

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