Day At The Track

Longtime outriding horse Brutus retires

06:24 AM 27 May 2011 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Neil Stalhiem and Brutus (right) along
Neil Stalhiem and Brutus (right) along - with Stalhiem’s wife, Kim, on the horse on the left

Many employees have delivered impeccable service to Hoosier Park over the years. One icon that has fulfilled his duties with flying colors is Neil Stalhiem's Quarter Horse, Brutus, who will make his final trip down the homestretch at Hoosier Park Monday, May 30.

“I bought Brutus up in Northern Indiana from a weekend trail rider,” said Stalhiem, who has served as Hoosier Park’s outrider since 1997. “He was five or six when I bought him. I knew the history on him. He had been a Futurity Barrel Horse when he was three. Knowing that story, he caught my eye.”

Stalhiem and his wife, Kim, went to pick up their new purchase. However, he wasn’t the sleek, fit horse he once was.

“He (Brutus) looked like a plow horse,” said Stalhiem. “He was huge. But when I started working with him, I thought he was going to work out for what I needed him to do.”

Brutus caught on quickly to the outriding business. He was soon chasing down loose horses at River Downs and dealing with unruly horses on the track.

“The more he (Brutus) caught horses, the more he picked up on it,” said Stalhiem. “I’d have to say he’s close to being the best I have ever had to do this job,”

Stalhiem and Brutus have made a solid team over the past 14 years. Now 19, Brutus has come to the end of his service for the track. He has served as the primary horse on the track for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing since 1997, and has provided some exciting moves, catching Thoroughbreds and standing his ground when a driver is experiencing problems with a Standardbred. Brutus now moves into a new phase of life. Although he will continue to serve others, the pace will be slightly less demanding on the old-timer.

“Depending on his personality, Brutus may be used for riding lessons or summer camps for kids with mental and physical handicaps,” said Shara, who oversees operations at Opening Gates Equine Assisted Counseling & Learning. “We are located in Jeffersonville, Ind. and provide all types of therapy, even marriage and group counseling. We offer groups for kids with disabilities free of charge and use horses to assist in this process.”

Stalhiem began his work as an outrider at Commodore Downs in Eerie, Pa. in 1975. He is currently working with several potential replacements, including Poco, who has been Brutus’ backup for the past four years. Stalhiem has also been utilizing Rachel Matthews’ retired Standardbred, Survive This. Matthews uses the horse for big events during the Standardbred season, serving as the Parade Marshall for the racing program.

Brutus has been a true ambassador for racing at Hoosier Park and we honor his service to Hoosier Park with a special retirement ceremony following the second race on the special Memorial Day racing program. Please join us in sending Brutus to his new life by stopping by the Grandstand Paddock and giving him one last peppermint, a treat he has gladly accepted over the years by racing fans between races. Thank you Brutus!

Tammy KNOX

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: