Columbus and York, Neb.

The growing season is winding down. The crops look great, however a little more heat and sunshine wouldn’t hurt. The Columbus area received 1.75 inches rain over the last two weeks. The York farm, 2.4 inches. Pen maintenance, feeding, harvest prep, for the most part are on track for this time of year. We will write about Roy’s other business.

Roy has thoroughbred horses that he races all year. Nebraska horse racing is winding down its season. Roy and his trainer decide which horses stay in training and which get new careers. Age and talent dictate this. Thoroughbred post-race careers include pleasure riding, polo, hunter/jumper, dressage and even chuck wagon racing.

Kurt Bensmiller and his dad, Buddy, have purchased Roy’s retired race horses over the years, and they’ve developed a great friendship. Kurt is a multi-time chuck wagon racing champion from Dewberry, Alberta. He maintains a stable of many talented teams, as this is a huge event in Canada. Horses are selected for potential talent and conformation.

Kurt makes his annual trip from eastern Alberta to Ag Park in Columbus, Nebraska to make end-of-season purchases. Kurt ships the horses to his ranch near Dewberry and turns them out for a rest. Training begins in April.

Chuck wagon racing competitors run a four-horse team pulling a light weight, well balanced wagon carrying no weight on the horses’ backs. One race lasts approximately one minute. The teams will run three or four times a week with three or four days off. I’m told horses run a total of 30 minutes over a season of actual racing (with 25 runs per season).

Kurt and his Dad haul 26-28 head to have fresh horses for each run. His horses are able to have long careers after the track. Any horses that may not fit the Bensmiller stables are sold to other chuck wagon racing competitors or for use in other equestrian disciplines.

Thanks to Kurt and Bensmiller Racing for giving retired thoroughbreds a continued purpose.

Thoroughbred racing is a multi-million dollar agriculture-related industry in Nebraska. Hay and feed purchases, employment and service sales add dollars to our state.

“Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.” – Sir Winston Churchill. Applicable in all aspects of agriculture.

Local cash basis: Cattle $104-106, ADM Columbus corn +.27, Richland corn -.10, Richland soybeans -1.01. – Karol Swan

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