Monday, 26 October 2009

Japan Diary - A Day At The Races

Each day's racing at the Ban-Ei track in Obihiro consists of 12 races, with the first one starting at 11:20am. Before the race, all the horses parade in the paddock, first led by their grooms, and then ridden by their jockeys. They are decked out in fine harnesses, and many of them have their manes braided with all kinds of decorations. This beautiful horse wore some very seasonal Halloween decorations that offset the black of his coat and mane:

The actual track is 200 metres long and consists of two "bumps." The horses come out of the starting gate and over the first bump.

They are then virtually stopped by the jockeys and lined up ahead of the second, so that they can get their breath back before going over the second bump. The sleighs weigh between 300 and 700 kilos, depending on the age of the horse and the category of the race.

After the second bump, it's the straight line to the finish.

By the end of the day's racing, is is often dark. This was the big race from Sunday, the Queen cup for mares only. In most races, mares and stallions (there are very few geldings) race side by side, and the mares often win! There are currently 5 mares among the top 15 winningest Ban-Ei horses, including, at #3, "Fuku Izumi" ("The Fountain of Happiness"), a beautiful dapple grey with a huge fan following.


  1. Tank woo fur sharing that!

    It is so furry interesting to see!

    Mom says it is much better than a Marx Brothers' movie!


  2. So exciting to hear about the races - it is so easy to tell you are having a great time.

  3. WOW!!!! We had no idea there were these kinds of races. They are all so beautiful and we're happy to hear the mares win a lot of the time :). We see racehorses all of the time here but they are all like our horse, thoroughbreds. Do you know how old these horses are when they break them and start training them to race? Another interesting thing we noticed is they have long toes which is interesting.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  4. I miss my Tama-Chan. :( *le sigh*

  5. Just got back and got to read your adventures in Japan. Love the fall leaf pictures. Brings back so many memories. The racing pictures are so amazing! I've never seen or even heard of a race where the horses pulled weighted sleds.

    Thank you so much!

    Oh, and I went to a place called Harris Ranch on the way down to Los Angeles. There was an old newspaper posted as decoration with a picture of racing horses including a Percheron. Made me think of you #1 and what I have learned about these horses :D


  6. So beautiful and colorful!

  7. Mom says she feels like a blogger slacker! She had no idea that you guys were at home with a petsitter and that #1 is in a faraway place called japan!!! We hope you guys are having fun!!! I always miss mom when she's away! I'm sure you guys are missing #1

    Woof Velcro

    Kodak, 3 Perf and Blossom

  8. The horses are just beautiful! What lovely decorations, too. And what a great experience to have a ride on the sleigh!:)

  9. What big beautiful beasts!!!

    We have never heard of that type of horse race. Very interesting.

  10. Unbelievable! Now that's what I call a cool race. Not to mention that the horses were most stylish with their decorations and what not.


  11. What great pictures, #1! At our local draft horse show, they don't race...teams of two horses one by one try to pull a sleigh with more and more weight on it. It's more like the farm work these guys would be doing...dragging heavy logs and farm equipment. The race must be very exciting!

  12. It sound great! Very exciting!
    great photos

    ViVi & AB

  13. Wow that is so cool - I haven't seen anything like it!

  14. How crazy that the sleighs are so heavy. Those horses do haver quite the horsepower. ; )

  15. Amazing photos and something we never knew about before...


Thanks for visiting our blog! We love getting comments.