top of page


Suggested Rules & Regulations

We are now going into the third decade of the modern era of Equestrian Ski Joring. We can use the past as a tool to standardize the future of our sport. Thanks to (NASJA) North American Ski Joring Association these basic rules, methods and protocols have been proven to work. They have been further developed by many Race Organizers and Organizations to bring Equestrian Ski Joring to the highest level of fairness and safety especially for the Equine competitors. If the Ski Joring Family can work together then we can achieve great things for the betterment of this unique sport, of Equestrian Ski Joring.

Scott C. Ping

Publisher Ski Joring Magazine

“Let’s all make an effort to insure that every Ski Joring Race no matter who is organizing it or what organization is presenting it, that Ski Joring is competitively Fair and Safe, Especially for the equine competitors."

Introduction: Basic Rules, Methods and Protocols of Ski

*These are guidelines that are generally accepted throughout the sport of skijoring, but each association has their own set of rules you will need to be familiar with as a competitor.


  1. A team consists of horse, rider and skier. Teams must strive to compete at the highest level of their abilities.

  2. Horse & Skier may compete in only one Division.Rider may compete in other Divisions on different horses.

  3. Skier and Rider may compete up to four times a day and cannot compete as the same team more than once.

  4. Horse may compete only twice a day.

  5. Ropes must be inspected & approved before competing and cannot be attached closer the 6” from the cartel of the saddle. 50' for curved tracks and 33' for straight tracks.

  6. Gates must be stationary and breakaway type.

  7. Both ski tips and both boots must go around a gate, or the gate is considered missed.

  8. The skier must finish in an upright position on at least one ski, with rope in hand. When crossing the finish line, both skier boots must cross the finish line.

  9. If the Skier drops the rope BEFORE crossing the start line, he/she will be allowed a restart.

  10. The team has four minutes to start once the course is deemed clear. (Sparby Rule)


  1. Ambulance, EMT, and Veterinarian crews will be on site during competition.

  2. Horse, Rider,& Skier should be in good physical shape to participate in an extreme sport.

  3. No performance enhancing drugs are allowed.

  4. The horse run out is required a minimum of 2/3 of the length of the course and must have consistent footing.

  5. Water for equine must be available and easily accessible at the race venue.

  6. Horse Leg protection (bell boots & wraps) are strongly recommended.

  7. Horses should have shoes that will increase their traction borium, calks, frost nails) with snow poppers. "This is highly recommended”.

  8. A equestrian skijoring course should NOT have more than 6 six inches of "punch". Punch refers to how deep the horse's hoof punches into the snow upon impact. If the horse course has more than 6" of punch it is deemed dangerous.

  9. Jumps should be twice as wide as high and three time as long as high.

  10. Skier must wear a protective helmet.

Race Protocol Recommendations

  • Run Sheets should be posted at the starting line for the day for all classes before any class runs. Announcer, Time Keeper, Media

  • Race Rules should be posted at the sign up location, starting gate and announced at the competitors meeting for the day.

  • Walkie-talkies should be used at all events for more effective communication.Distribution of communication devices and training for the use of the devices and standard lingo should be provided to all volunteers before race.

  • Staging between runs: (The Sparby Rule) each team is allowed four minutes to complete staging and begin the race. After this allotted time has expired, the competitors will be asked to leave the staging area. The team will be allowed one more attempt to race at the end of the Division. If the staging time is again exceeded, that team will be disqualified from that Run. The allotted four-minute time period will begin at the declaration of a clear track.

  • Competitors may compete as young as fourteen years old with parental consent, proof of insurance and required protective gear.

  • The Start Gate Official should inspect the horse, rider, and skier at the beginning of each run. If a competitor is not within the safety regulations, they should be given the opportunity to rectify the situation before running.

  • No excessive whipping of horses or use of a crop.

  • The Start Gate Official may advise the arena judge to pull competitors from a race if they see the team is not fit to compete. Race organizers have the final decision.

Course & Jumps Safety Protocol

Horse Course

  • If the course or jumps are considered unsafe during a division, the race can be put on hold to address any concerns.

  • Competitors should immediately bring their concerns to the Arena Judge if they feel the course is unsafe for competition.

  • The Arena Judge should then stop the race and consult with organizers on how to remedy the problem. If the course is deemed safe by the arena judge or by a vote of horse riders competing; the race may continue.

  • A skijoring skijoringcourse should NOT have more than 6 six inches of "punch". Punch refers to how deep the horse's hoof punches into the snow upon impact. If the horse course has more than 6" of punch it is deemed dangerous.

  • In most cases of unsafe conditions extra snow can be removed down to a firm base - dirt if necessary. If the base is icy, then use gravel or sand to firm the track. A nitrogen product such as a fertilizer may be applied to stiffen up the snow and reduce the amount of punch the horse would make. Most problems can be eliminated the night before the race if temperatures get below freezing.

  • Any course repair procedures should be done between divisions unless it is deemed unsafe to continue. However; hand filling, removing and leveling the course may be done if damage was done by a prior competitor and deemed dangerous and unsafe for competitors by the Arena Judge.


Course for Skiers

  • Holes are areas of wear and tear at landing area of jumps should be filled in between competitors within the same division.

  • Jumps should be adjusted between divisions to remove excessive “booters” from the top of the jumps. Booters refer to the lip that can be created at the top of the jump that causes the skier to unexpectedly be launch off the jump.

Penalty Assessments Protocol

The following penalties should be assessed, but this is at the discretion of the Race itself.

  • 1 second penalty for each missed jump or gate. No Time for a horse

  • 1 second penalty for any horse breaking the plane of any jump, dislodging a gate, or hitting a timing device at the starting line or finish line.

  • If rings are part of the course, a 1 second penalty for each missed or dropped ring.


Horse and Spectator Safety Protocol

  • Horses, skiers and spectators are especially subject to injury at the starting areas. The best way to promote safety is the use of metal horse panels to confine and separate horses from the spectators, skiers and unsafe areas.Competitors in the Starting Box Area, should limited to competitors in the division being run at that time.

  • The start gate area should minimally be roped off -- 12-foot panels with connectors at corners are recommended.

  • Spectators should not be allowed in the horse starting area or within 30 feet of the staging area.

  • Competitors may be in the staging area with caution and without equipment that may impede, be stepped on or tangled up by horses.

  • Three Starting personnel should be assigned to the starting area to coordinate activity and help ensure safety. At least one at the finish.

  • The Starting Gate and or the arena judge can and should disqualify any horse deemed unsafe.


Horse Panel Keeper Protocol

  • The Horse Panel Keeper calls out run order, i.e. Who is next, on-deck and in-the-hole, etc. Then closes panel behind horse when it enters into start area.

  • Starting Judge Protocol:

  • Starting Judge, Arena Judge and Time Keeper’s should be connected via WalkieWalkie Talkies.

  • After the “Course is Cleared” by the Arena Judge and the Timer is ready, the Starting Judge calls the next horse and rider to the start area.

  • The Starting Judge hooks rope to horses rigging and makes sure rigging is within rules.

  • The Starting Judge makes sure that horses start in the defined starting area.

  • The Starting Judge calls any false Starts, run order changes, starting time limits and controls Start Area Ethics.


Race Roles Protocol

  • It may be possible for a person to fill multiple roles.


Course Designer- Most Important

  • Sets track and tests course. The course designer is ultimately responsible for the designing and building of the ski joring course on the site chosen. The designer should use diagrams, local knowledge from other sources to insure the site is at the right location, with

  • respect to all aspects of the entire event. The location, area, and snow depths are only part of what a good designer has to deal with.

  • Consideration to logistics of how the race will run, will insure a successful race. Timing of course set up and temperatures are key elements to insure the proper snow base for a good safe track, especially for the equestrian stock. Size and design of jumps are very important aspects to give the look of danger to the spectators but built properly can add difficulty and safety at the same time. Distances between jumps, gates, and rings will give skiers a rhythm that will not only make for faster times but have a visual effect of poetry in motion. Speed is everything. A course set too tight will cause horses to slow and increases injury for skiers. A completion rate of 80% of all skiers competing is a good rule of thumb to strive for when setting the course. Race Director Coordinates all aspects of the race. Communicates with all personal involved. Keeps race running smooth and safe.

Starting Gate Judge - Needs Radio

Communicates with Arena judge that course is clear. Verifies that starting gate area is safe for competitors and separates spectators from horse staging area. Calls false starts. Determines readiness of competitors to start.


Timer - Needs Radio

Runs timing equipment, communicates with Arena Judge, score keeper, and start gate.


Scorekeeper - Should Have Radio

Tracks the times, penalties and communicates with announcer and verifies scoreboard



Race Commentary, Sponsorship Announcement, Announces Race to Audience.


Finish Judge - Needs Radio

Judges Finish line area for penalties and safety. Collects Rings, Announce penalties to Scorekeeper, Communicates with teams on time and Penalties

Arena Judge - Needs Radio

One hour before race start time, Coordinate with competitors meeting and reading of rules and certain protocols. Oversees entire run from best advantage, typically on horse. Oversees gate keepers, ring stands and judges. Verifies penalties. Communicates with start judge for

course is clear signal. Determines if course is safe or needs repair. Advisor to protest committee.


Medic (EMT)

To respond to medical emergencies. Communicates with Arena Judge to come to aid of a competitor. Should be central in location.



To inspect horses for health and safety. Notify start judge with any concerns of unfit horses. Takes complete control if a horse goes down and is unable to continue. Should be near starting gate.


Start Gate Starter #1

Communicate with Start Gate Judge. Ready horses, Hook rope to horse and verify correct horse and rigging.


Start Gate Starter #2

Communicate with Start Gate Judge. Ready Skiers, Hands rope to skiers, verifies correct skier and equipment. Announces Run Order and who is “on deck and in the hole” Gate keepers Directed by Arena Judge. Communicates with Arena Judge by one flag per gate. Keeps flag raised if gate is missed. Verify with Arena Judge missed gate signal and which gate was missed. Signal Horse Rider if false start is signaled by start gate judge or dropped skier. Comes to the aid of any hurt competitor, especially the equine competitor.


Course Safety Crew

People in place with rake or shovel to fill in holes, groves or rough spots during competition. Making sure that course is closed in doing so.

Race Communication Protocol

  • Race Director to Arena Judge - “Everything ready to go?”

  • Arena Judge to Race Director - “Everything ready to go”

  • Race Director to Announcer - “ Announce the start of the race”

  • Race Director to Announcer - “ Announce to clear the course”

  • Announcer to Audience - “Clear the course, horses ready to run”

  • Announcer banters about team x

  • Arena Judge to all radios – Is Course Clear and is Team x ready?”

  • Start Gate Judge to All Radios - Team x is ready to run”

  • Start Gate Judge to Timer - “Timer Ready?”

  • Timer to Start Gate Judge - “Timer’s Ready”

  • Start Gate Judge to Arena Judge – Is Coarse Clear ?

  • Arena Judge to Start Gate Judge _- Course is Clear

  • Start Gate Judge to Arena Judge - “ Sending Team X “

  • Announcer Banter team X during run

  • Timer to all radios - “Time of team x is x”

  • Announcer to Audience – Team x time is X

  • Arena Judge to Finish gate Judge - “Any Penalties”

  • Finish gate Judge to Arena Judge - “Missing two rings” or “dropped rope” Ect.

  • Arena Judge to all radios – Add 3 Penalties, 1 missed Gate & 2 missed Rings”

  • Arena Judge to Timer - Timer, COPY THAT ?

  • Timer to All radios – TIMER COPIES

  • Timer to All radios – Gives Team # time, penalties & gives final time

  • Timer to Scorekeeper – Copy That ?

  • Scorekeeper to All Radios – repeats : Puts Time & Penalties on Scoreboard

  • Announce to Audience - That’s a total time of x. including x penalties

  • Scorekeeper writes this down to share with teams coming back to start line. Then the process start over again.


The time and any penalties assessed should be given to a team immediately upon completion of that teams run. Race results will be announced and posted during the race, and prize money awarded no more than 2 hours after the conclusion a race.


Run Dispute Protocol

If a team member has a concern regarding their run. That team member may immediately tell the finish line judge of that concern and may declare a protest. The finish line judge immediately radios the Arena Judge and brings the protest to his attention. The arena judge immediately stops the Race. The arena judge inspects the area of dispute. The arena judge confers with any gate keeper that called the penalty or saw the area of concern. The Arena Judge, at that time may declare the protest is under further review or deny the protest. Either way the race resumes. If a team member has a concern regarding their run but does not notify the finish line judge immediately. That team member may still protest as soon as possible after the run, but not later than the start of the next class. A Protest Committee consisting of 3 non-competing members, experienced in the event, schooled in the rules and selected to have no conflict of interest, will consider the concern presented and make a decision no later than the end of the race. If the team member is still not satisfied with the decision of the committee. That team member may file a formal appeal to the protest committee no later than the end of the race. A predetermined amount could be charged to the team member to carry that formal appealed protest further. The amount could be as much as the entry fees of that team or team member. The protest committee may consider Video footage or witnesses to come their final decision. The decision should be made before the results of the day or before the awards are given. The decision of that committee is final and all involved are ask to accept that decision in the spirit of friendly competition. All evidence is open to review but competitors should be ready to present their case at time of protest.


Starting Skier Marshal Protocol

It is recommended that the Starting Skier Marshal perform the following duties:

  1. 1. Certifies ropes lengths before race starts.

  2. Makes sure the skier is paired with the correct horse and rider.

  3. Hands rope to skier.

  4. Clears equipment and rope for start.


Registration Protocol

Races can allow preregistration through online registration, as well as the usual Friday night signups. Online registration allows races to get a better feel for the number of race competitors signing up for each division. Saturday and Sunday morning signups if allowed, should be kept to a minimum and handled as quickly and efficiently as possible. This helps ensure run sheets are available in plenty of time before the race starts, so the any grievances to the order can be addressed. This also allows the award checks to be written for Saturday and Sunday on Friday night.

Course Design Protocol


Approximately 600 to 900 feet from start to finish gates for oval or straight tracks. It is a required that the runout length should be more than 2/3 of the course length.


Stationary Breakaway style


Two to Four jumps, approximately five feet in height, variable per track with safety being priority. (JUMP DESIGN DIAGRAM with Rings). General layout of intended venue. A drawing is recommended. Venues should provide


  1. Length and type of course

  2. Jump heights, widths, and side view drawing

  3. Type and number of gates and jumps

  4. Run out lengthTypes of obstacles (rings etc.)

bottom of page