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Ostrich Racing

Ostrich Racing is a sport where people race each other on the backs of ostriches. They can also be ridden similarly as horses with wagons, special saddles, reins and bits. This contest is said to be harder to manage than horses.

ostrich racing in a harness old image of ostrich racing in a harness

Ostriches are large flightless birds that are mostly native to Africa. They have long necks and legs and can run up 70 km/h and their long legs can cover up to 16 ft in just a single stride. Ostriches have the fastest land speed of any bird.

Ostrich Racing is common in South Africa and in the United States particularly in Chandler, Arizona. In Jacksonville, Florida, an ostrich farm was opened as a tourist attraction in 1892 and became one of the most visited and known attractions in the state. Ostrich racing also takes places in Virginia City in Nevada, Fairgrounds in New Orleans, Canterbury Park in Minnesota, Ellis Park in Kentucky and Prairie Meadows in Iowa.

Before the race starts, ostrich jockeys stretch and examine the birds in their pens which is similar to a horse race pen. Jockeys only wear helmets as their protective gear.

It’s not uncommon for some of the riders to topple to the ground together with their wagon or if the bird gets too uncomfortable that it tries to wiggle its way out of the jockey’s grip.

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