If You’re Playing Indian Relay, You Might Want to Read This First

Published on January 26, 2019

“Accidents happen. Just finishing a race demands masterful skill. And courage.”

America’s oldest known competition, Indian Relay, has been exploding in popularity, receiving the long over-due recognition it so righteously deserves.

But, did you know that as one of the world’s most exciting sports, it’s also one of the most dangerous?

Making its debut at Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, “Fast Horse is Alexandra Lazarowich’s latest work that takes you through an intimate verite visit into the fascinating and little-known world of Indian Relay.

Fast Horse follows the return of the Blackfoot bareback horse racing tradition by following Siksika horseman, Allison RedCrow for over a year, in her struggle to build a team with second-hand races and a new jockey, Cody BigTobacco, to take on the best riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy at the Calgary Stampede.

This short film puts the audience directly on the back of a galloping horse with an exhilarating POV experience that captures the thrill and risk of this white-knuckle sport. But, in addition to the galloping, the film also captures the emotional bond between rider and horse, witnessing the level of devotion and commitment riders and handlers have with their hard-working friend.

So, what should you take away from this? Understand that the time, effort, and commitment it takes to not only bond with the horse, but achieving mastery of the track demands a whole new level of respect for the skills of horsemanship.

And just maybe, you may come to understand just how unpredictable and dangerous the Indian Relay can be.

Alexandra Lazarowich is a Cree filmmaker whose work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and has had her films screen at festivals around the world. In her work, Lazarowich continues to try and tell the stories of Indigenous people.

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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