Last Updated on April 28, 2022
The unusual sport of ostrich riding was born in South Africa where it’s still somewhat popular, and it was widespread in the US in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Back then, you could reach out to ostrich farms Jacskonville, Florida and ride an ostrich for just a few cents. Nowadays, ostrich riding is not as popular although still practiced as a tourist activity in a few locations worldside. Ostrich races, on the other hand, are held annually in the US in several cities across the country.
Ostrich racing is a sport in which jockeys compete against each other while riding on the back of ostriches. Sometimes chariots, saddles or wagons are used to ride the ostrich.
The rules are simple: contenders climb on the back of their bird, grab them by their feathers and ride themacross the track. What makes this sport so entertaining, though, is that ostriches are not nearly as easy to ride or control as other animals: they will shake, jump, and try to get rid of their riders, which often end up falling off and leaving the ostrich to complete the run by themselves.
Fun fact: in Chandler’s Ostrich Festival, ostriches are conducted in a style known as “featherback”, and jockeys do their best to hold tight to their birds as they run at high speeds of 30 miles per hour (!). Occasionally, ostrich racing is performed with the help of chariots or saddles, although this used to be more common in the past.
Annual Ostrich Races in USA
Chandler Ostrich Festival – Chandler, Arizona
The Ostrich Festival is a community family event featuring live ostrich races and ostrich-themed activities, national and regional entertainment, carnival midway, spectacular food, upscale arts & crafts, a Saturday morning parade and much more.
Sam Houston Race Park Camel & Ostrich Race – Houston, Texas
Sam Houston Race Park is a horse racing track located in unincorporated northwest Houston, Texas, United States. Camel and ostrich races take place annually.
International Camel and Ostrich Races – Virginia City, Nevada
The International Camel & Ostrich Races started as a prank between two newspaper editors more than 60 years ago and is now one of the most beloved and hilarious family events in the west, and this town’s favorite tradition. The 63rd annual International Camel & Ostrich Races bring the laughs for the whole family as jockeys, both professional and amateur, race their camels, ostriches and zebras around the track to the roars of the crowd. You never know what might happen. A comical racing spectacle that leaves the entire family laughing, the event includes a fair-like midway with vendors and treats for the family.
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Exotic Races – New Orleans, Louisiana
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots holds annual “exotic races” including ostrich, camel and zebra runs. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 15 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana.
Prairie Meadows Ostrich Races – Altoona, Iowa
Jockey races on a camel during the annual camel, zebra, and ostrich races at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. As Prairie Meadows puts it: “Things are going to get wild.”
Fonner Park Dinsdale Dashers Ostrich Race – Grand Island, Nevada
Fonner Park, Nebraska’s premier horse racing track, features live thoroughbred horse races. Every year, the “Dinsdale Dashers” takes place where captivating camel and ostrich races attract thousands of people.
Canterbury Park Ostrich Race – Shakopee, Minnesota
Canterbury Park’s Extreme Race Day is a recent addition to Shakopee’s racing track. On this day every year, camel, ostrich and zebra races are held in between live horse racing.
Penn National Race Course Camel & Ostrich Racing Night – Grantville, Pennsylvania
Thoroughbred-horse-racing track with outdoor stadium seating & the adjacent Hollywood Casino. Ostrich and camel racing returns to Penn National Race Course for one day every year.
Ellis Park Racing & Gaming – Henderson, Kentucky
Ostrich racing has become an alternative to thoroughbred horse racing at Ellis Park where annually the huge birds will compete against each other next to camels. The exotic races are a recent addition but have become popular staples enjoyed by the crowds.
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