Saturday, August 10, 2019

Racing stripes

Exotic animal races are a popular way to increase attendance at small tracks. I've featured pictures of racing zebras, camels and ostriches in this space before, but I never expected to witness this myself.

Never say never, right?
My recent visit to San Antonio, Texas just happened to coincide with Retama Park's Zebra, Camel and Ostrich Night. That seemed like fate, so Carol and I spent the evening at the track.
Zebra races aren't like horse races. 
The starting gate is moved up almost to the finish line and the saddled zebras are led onto the track.
On the other side of the finish line, a handheld, safety net is erected. 
Zebra racing tack consists of a synthetic Western saddle without a saddle pad,
 a halter with reins attached to the upper cheek piece rings,
a breastcollar...
 and either a crupper...
 or breeching.
The zebras were paraded in front of the crowd...
and introduced to their riders. 
 Most of the jockeys had this exact expression on their faces.
 Then the zebras, handlers and jockeys walked back to the starting gate.
They lined up... 
and attempted to mount. 
The zebras had been very well behaved up until this point, but apparently they were just biding their time.
Most of them got bronc-y...
and this one just sat down.
Eventually, everyone got their seats in the saddles and their feet in the stirrups. Some of them even managed to get pointed in the right right direction.
Then the race began!
The zebras bucked...
better than they steered.
 No one fell off.
and everyone made it across the finish line. 
I couldn't see who won, but all four of them got to have their picture taken in the winner's circle.
Good job, zebras!
That was a lot of fun!


  1. This is amazing. I got to meet a baby zebra up close once and was told they are VERY difficult to tame (let alone ride!) This amused me endlessly.

    1. This group seemed extremely easy to handle. They led well and didn't seem bothered by anything... until the jockeys climbed aboard. Then it was a rodeo!