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CJ Walsh, Skijoring, Canterbury Park

Youngsters to Compete at Extreme Horse Skijoring

Extreme Horse Skijoring comes to Canterbury Park on Feb. 23, 2019.
Extreme Horse Skijoring comes to Canterbury Park on Feb. 23, 2019.

CJ Walsh, 12, will be among the youth competitors when Extreme Horse Skijoring comes to Canterbury Park on Saturday, Feb. 23.

How does he think he and his teammate, Ava Erickson, will do?

“I’m guessing we’ll have more fun than success,” he said.

Skijoring is an adrenaline-packed race that involves a skier being pulled behind a horse. Competitors maneuver through gates and other obstacles in this unique winter sport.

Tickets for the event, presented by Windsor, are on sale now.

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Ava and CJ

Ava practicing for the Feb. 23 Extreme Horse Skijoring event at Canterbury Park.
Ava practicing for the Feb. 23 Extreme Horse Skijoring event at Canterbury Park.

CJ, whose sister previously participated in a skijoring event, will be riding the horse while Ava will be pulled by rope on her skis. Once she was asked about participating in the Extreme Horse Skijoring event, Ava looked up videos online to get a sense of what the sport is all about.

“I thought it was really cool to see people going at top speed, going over jumps and doing all this cool stuff,” she said.

Though she will be skiing during the Extreme Horse Skijoring event at Canterbury Park, Ava is comfortable around horses, competing in Minnesota Junior High Rodeo and other horse shows. Plus, she said, “I don’t know if CJ can ski.”

CJ, meanwhile, will be riding Spark, his 17-year-old quarter horse.

“I don’t think Spark has ever pulled a human before, so I don’t know how she’ll react,” he said.

As of mid-January, the two had yet to practice together, though Ava had once at her grandparents’ place. It was difficult, she said.

“It’s hard going around dodging stuff and not being pulled over sometimes,” said Ava, who considers herself a strong skier.

CJ’s horsemanship experience includes 4H, the Western Saddle Clubs Association and the Little Britches Rodeo. He expects the time between now and the Feb. 23 event to pass quickly.

“It’s going to pop up suddenly. ‘Oh, we’re doing this.’ I have no idea what to expect,” he said.

Is Ava nervous about competing in Extreme Horse Skijoring? “Yes,” she said with a laugh.

Still, she’s excited about the experience.

“I’m really looking forward to doing this. It’s something really fun that I want to do,” Ava said.

Outside Skijoring

Ava, who lives in Lake Elmo and attends Stillwater Middle School, also plays tennis. Her favorite subject in school is science, and she hopes for a career in chemistry or biology when she grows up.

CJ lives in Stillwater and also attends Stillwater Middle School. He participates in shooting sports (air rifle and bow), and also trains dogs. His favorite subjects in school are math and science and he’s looking toward a career in agricultural science when he gets older.

People can watch both CJ and Ava compete at Extreme Horse Skijoring from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. Tickets cost $10; children 12 and younger get in free.