The Hobbled Sport
Second only to Baseball as the most widely attended sport and way, way more than thoroughbred racing. Invented right along with the domestication of horses and the invention of the wheel around 4500 B.C. Reinvented in America in the 1820s, when rural folks tired of racing up and down country roads. Reinvented again with the arrival of the pneumatic bicycle wheel in the 1890s. So they say.
Harness racetracks come in many sizes but the standard length of a race is 1-mile. Rules exist to modulate the rider, horse, and pace but none are as effective as the hobble. A strip of leather fit loosely around the horse’s upper legs hobbles its gait to a trot. The rider sits on a “sulky” weighing a mere 25 pounds, and guides his horse with consummate skill on a harrowing ride that must be seen up close to appreciate in the fullest.
Batavia Downs, New York
Saturday, July 28th 2018