SOUTH DAKOTA HORSE
By Justin Ehrman of South Dakota Horse
If you follow national horse racing news, you will have likely seen a story break this week about the legal issues facing numerous racing veterinarians, trainers, and other staff. It shines light on a dark part of any sport: doping. (See this story on the Paulick Report)
The issue of PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs) in racing has been around a long time, with efforts to eliminate the use of these substances in horses finally finding some success in recent years. The unfortunate part of this tragic practice is that these horses have no choice, unlike human athletes. These magnificent creatures, who are bred to run, are the victims of the sometimes deadly practice of PED injections, when a proper diet gives them an excellent source of the energy they need to perform at top levels. Our equine athletes deserve better than this for putting every ounce of their heart and soul into each race.
The news this week shines a spotlight on the importance of our small tracks in South Dakota who create a base of integrity in the sport. Ft. Pierre track manager Shane Kramme says that in all the years he’s been involved in racing, he’s seen only “minor infractions related more to prescribed medications and their administration.” He adds that “rigorous testing is performed by our state veterinarian that helps ensure standards.”
The thunder of South Dakota horse racing captured by Samantha Witte.
South Dakota horse racing has had a history of creating a healthy balance between family-oriented competitive fun, and attractive purse money to entice talented horses to its race meets. The focus on integrity and the thrill of pure racing fun by family-owned racing barns has not been pushed aside by a focus on winning the big purse money at any cost. This choice by trainers and owners allows these horses the opportunity to do what they love to do: run. The gift of them being able to run drug-free improves their safety by decreasing the risks of heart attacks and injuries that were masked by the drugs.
Samantha Witte, from Pierre, South Dakota has been a racing fan for years. She moved to the state from Canada to work with a South Dakota-based horse trainer. “I grew up in the tracks,” she says. “There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh shavings or the smell of a sweaty horse.” Witte has attended South Dakota race meets for years and has plenty of photos and documentation to prove it.
"This is a sport that, if you haven’t been to it, go. It’s an adrenaline rush. It makes you feel young." - Bill Geditz
Racing gets in the blood of fans, who turn to working with or even owning racehorses. Racing, if supported, generates revenue and tourism dollars that have significant economic impact on the communities involved, and the state.
Now, more than ever, we should support South Dakota’s horse racing tracks and the exciting atmosphere of equine competition they create with Midwest competitors that operate with true love of the sport, and pride in natural accomplishments and hard work.
As Ipswich, South Dakota racehorse owner Bill Geditz says in Episode 7 of the South Dakota Horse Podcast released earlier this week, “This is a sport that, if you haven’t been to it, go. It’s an adrenaline rush. It makes you feel young. Go out and look at these horses. These are magnificent creatures. We have great people here in South Dakota that do a great job. Support them. Come out and enjoy [the races]. It’s a great sport.”
View these great photos of Ft. Pierre and Aberdeen racing, courtesy of Samantha Witte, longtime horse racing fan and supporter.