Ban'ei Horses
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Ban'ei horses are from Hokkaido, Japan, where they are usedrnfor unique draft races, called the Ban-ei Keiba races, in which the horse pullsrna heavy sledge (called a Sori). These races, which are only conducted at fourrnracecourses in Hokkaido, are run by such heavy horses bred from stock such asrnthe sturdy Percherons, Bretons and Belgians, which pull a steel sleigh carryingrna heavy load, together weighing from about half a ton to one ton (includingrnjockey, sledge, and harness), along a 200-meter separated straight track withrntwo humps.

rnrnThe dynamic Ban-ei Keiba races, which enjoy a largernfollowing, originated as a competition among farmers and locals at least 55rnyears ago at festivals in the areas in Hokkaido and Tohoku. It started as arncompetition to test a horse's value for farming from its strength andrnendurance. Two horses were pulled mutually, and whichever won was more valuablernthan the other, and so on. It was in November 1946 that Article 9 of the localrnhorse racing enforcement rules was written, which declared that Ban-ei Keibarnracing to become public management. Administrative divisions sponsored in 1946,rnand the city began to manage it in 1953. These horses had been requisitioned asrnmilitary horses, and there was a rush for production which didn't includernquality, and the breeds decreased sharply. It was left to the publicrnmanagement, with two economic reconstruction policies that included increasingrnthe feed production and promoting the Ban-ei Keiba races. Steadily, over time,rnthis sport became popular and was strictly regulated to protect the horses.rnrn 

rnrnInteresting points about these races: In the Ban-ei Keibarnraces, muddy racetracks are an advantage, not a hindrance, as in thoroughbredrnhorse racing. While mud may make it more difficult for a horse to gain footing,rnmost draft breeds are bred to work in wet weather. The sledge is often muchrneasier to pull in the mud than it is over dry ground. The horse also may stoprnoccasionally during the race, to gain footing or get their breath beforerntackling one of the humps. You could almost consider Ban-ei Keiba races a gamerninstead of a race. The jockey's skill and technique is much more important inrnBan-ei Keiba racing in comparison to Thoroughbred racing. The jockey mustrndecide whether to carefully clear the two obstacles, or whether the horse mightrnbe able to attack and conquer them in one run-through without a rest. Thernhorse's speed isn't as important in these races as its endurance is, againrnunlike Thoroughbred racing. Ban-ei Keiba followers do expect magnificence atrnthese races, they expect dynamic impression.rnrn 

rnrnBan'ei horses are Sorrel, Chestnut, Brown, Black, or Gray. Therernare three main types of Ban-ei horses, the Percheron type, the Breton type, andrnthe Belgian type. While these horses aren't necessarily purebred, they tend torntake on the characteristics of the purebreds of those breeds.

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