EDMONTON — An Alberta couple is hoping to bring skijoring with miniature horses to skiers who want to give it a whirl.
The recreational winter sport's name comes from a Norwegian word that means ski-driving, which has a person on skis pulled by a horse, a dog or a motor vehicle.
Patty Kramps, who runs Patty's Pony Place about an hour north of Edmonton, said they've been testing the sport for the past few years.
"I'm an overgrown kid with a minature horse (and) a big sewing machine," she told The Canadian Press Thursday.
This year, Kramps decided to turn a horse named Tonka into Supertonk and got her husband, Kelly Miller, to try skijoring. A video of the pair, which was posted online, has gone viral with two million views and counting.
"It's fun," said Miller, 56. "We're always looking for things to do with the horses. These little guys — I weigh almost as much as they do, and it's hard to find things they can do that's within their capability.
"Pulling a skier is the easiest thing we've ever found for a miniature horse to do. It's easier than a cart or a sleigh or any kind of vehicle. It's just you on those skis and a person on skis slides pretty good. So, they like it."
Miller, who is a downhill skier, said it's a similar feeling to skiing — only he gets pulled behind the horse.
"I have used my downhill skis from many years ago, but they are a little long," he said. "It's nice with a little shorter ski. We're using what they call snowblade skis. They are only 90-100 centimetres long. They are very short and easy to handle in the turns."
The harness on the horse has a hard piece, which is set up so the skier doesn't run into the horse if it slows down. There's also a quick release snap that is set up to unhook if the skier falls.
Kramps makes the harnesses for skijoring that she sells to people around the world. She already offers horse rides and said she would also like to give people a chance to try skijoring.
"I have the area here to do it," she said. "I've got three acres of bush lot on my little 10-acre spot and ... there's a half a mile carved through that bush that intertwines and makes loops and swoops. I have 10,000 LED lights on it. The whole half mile is lit.
"We do Christmas drives here, but now with this skijoring thing we do see that as an opening for a further expansion of what we do."
The viral video is available online at http://bit.ly/2E8gf6r