Animals as Athletes

Here are some sports that depend on animals more than on people.

Pigeon Racing

This was once a popular sport in the U.S. Homing pigeons were transported to a designated place, then released to fly home. Several pigeons would compete at a time, and the first pigeon to reach home won.

Sled Dog Racing

This sport is very popular in Alaska. Each dog team harnessed to a sled is controlled by a driver, called a musher. The teams are timed from start to finish, and the fastest team wins. The most famous annual sled dog race is the 1,200-mile Iditarod, from Anchorage to Nome.


Polo is played on horseback by two teams of four players each. The players carry long-handled clubs, called mallets, and try to knock a wooden ball on the ground through their opponents' goal posts. The mallet must be held in the right hand, forcing a player to control the horse with the left. The match is divided into chukkars, periods of play. The team with the most goals at the end wins.

Horse Racing

The first organized sport in the U.S. was horse racing. The first official race took place in 1665 on Long Island, New York. It was hoped that this sport would produce a better breed of horses in the colonies.


Provided by Infoplease—an authoritative, comprehensive reference website that offers an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an atlas, and several almanacs. Visit Infoplease.com to find more resources endorsed by teachers and librarians.

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