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Wyoming Horse Council meets during Big Wyoming Horse Expo

Written by Gayle Smith

Douglas – Thanks to legislation passed last year by the state of Wyoming allowing people to place wagers on historical horse racing, the state’s counties, cities and horse industry are reaping the benefits from the program. 

During the Wyoming Horse Council meeting on April 25, Judy Horton encouraged members and guests to contact their representatives in government and thank them for allowing this legislation. 

“It has made a tremendous amount of money for our state and our industry,” Horton told members. 

Monetary impacts

In fact, although more than $110 million was wagered in horse racing last year, 92 percent of it went back to the betting public, Horton said. 

The remaining eight percent was distributed to the horse industry, with a percentage of that distributed to the cities and counties who allowed historical horse racing to do business with them. Laramie County made $1 million last year just for allowing the business to operate within their county, Horton said.

Along with historical horse racing, some cities and counties also offer live horse racing, which is becoming a tremendous economic benefit to the state. 

“It will get the revenue stream back into the cities and counties that offer historic and live racing,” Horton explained.

Continued growth

Members of the Council expressed their desire to see that part of the business continue to grow, and they hope it will help the state prosper even more in the future. 

Horton shared a visit she had with one of the veterinarians in the state who could already see the positive economic impact this legislation was going to have on the state. There are also already rumblings from breeders who hope to get back into the Wyoming horse racing industry, Horton said. 

In addition, the horse racing business will provide the need for more veterinary work, more feed sales and more sales of trucks, trailers and other merchandise, Horton shared. 

“The economic impact for the state of Wyoming will be tremendous,” she said. 

Racing schedule

For 2015, 32 days of racing are scheduled in Evanston, Rock Springs and Casper. 

In addition to Wyoming horses, the group anticipates horses from other states will compete just to get in a few more runs. 

“We have people who have left the state and are starting to come back, and other breeders are bringing horses here to get in some additional runs,” Horton explained. “People really like the way the Wyoming Bred racing program is set up.”

The legislation was passed to not only increase live horse racing in the state but to offer more opportunities in the racing world. It also helps supplement purses for the Wyoming horseman.

“Wyoming-bred race horses will be worth a lot of money,” Horton said. “These races will increase the number of Wyoming-bred owners, breeders and stallions. If a breeder has a Wyoming-bred baby they sold, they will always make money if it wins.”

“The way the program is set up, 40 percent goes to the breeder, 40 percent to the owner and 20 percent to the stallion. As a result, we are going to see more running-bred stallions in this state,” she noted.

Back Country Horsemen

Peggy Caldwell of the Back Country Horseman also visited with the Wyoming Horse Council members to gain their support for future federal legislation that will attempt to keep the back country open to horses. 

“It is the mission of the Back Country Horseman to keep the back country open to horse riding,” Caldwell said. “There hasn’t been a problem in Wyoming yet, but in other states like California, recreationalists don’t want us there and are trying to get legislation passed at the state level to keep us out,” she said. 

“We are working on federal legislation to combat that,” Caldwell explained. “To accomplish this, we are trying to work with different organizations as a group to get legislation passed that will keep the back country open for horses.”

Caldwell said the local chapters of the group work with different entities like the Forest Service and BLM to maintain trails and make repairs. They conduct educational training seminars to teach horsemen how to get in and out of the back country, what to expect and rules for using the trails. They also teach packing classes.

Director appointments

Kelly Windsor was appointed as director for District Four, replacing KC Carden. 

The Horse Council still has vacancies in District Five and Six and encouraged people who live in those areas and are interested in horses to apply for the vacancies.

The next meeting is scheduled for the morning of July 11 in Evanston. Horton said if members notify her ahead of time, she will get them into the races that will be held that day free. She is also hoping to give the Council members a tour of the starting gate, testing barns and judging box.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..