A Clifton family brought home the top trophy from Clarkston’s annual Pony Express Horse Relay Race.
Wearing brown vests, Lucas Westover and his children borrowed a couple of horses from his brother, Travis, to go along with two of their own for the competition.
Lucas, the first rider, handed off a mailbag to his twin teenage sons, Jacob and Joseph, who passed the race onto their sister, Celestial, who slung the parcel into the waiting finish-line mailbox. This was the second year for this team to compete.
The family prevailed over 10 other teams in the race, staged on June 22. Many contestants come just for the fun, but there is a spirit of competitiveness involved.
The race is put on by the town of Clarkston in recognition of its pioneer heritage, going back to the days when the only transportation available was horses. In this relay, teams of four riders are invited to try their skill at handing off a loaded mailbag to a teammate already mounted and ready to move out, delivering said mail with speed and without accident. All teams have their first rider start at the same time, mailbag in hand, and all ride the same course. Once all members of a team have completed their lap, the last rider dismounts and puts their mailbag in the designated mailbox at the finish line near the grandstand.
The course is in the foothills west of Clarkston, near City Creek. It is a cross-country track with several draws, two creek crossings, and a hill. Each participating team is made up of four riders and each person rides about three miles, so the entire race ends up being about 12 miles long.
Though the course has changed a few times over the years, it is a long time tradition that Clarkston residents began in 1983.
The city changed the course three years ago to run on softer ground to be safer for horses’ hooves, and the creek crossings were added for some excitement and to keep the reenactment closer to what one might have encountered on a real Pony Express route.
Each team has an entrance fee of $60. The race is free to spectators and they have a view of the entire racecourse from a slope above and fairly parallel to the track. Fans can identify their favorite team by the color of vest each team member must wear.
All participants completing the race were entered into a drawing for a new Corriente saddle and other door prizes.