Lakota Country Times: Oglala team wins Indian relay title again

For the third consecutive year a team of Oglala Lakota horsemen have taken home the World Indian Relay Championship in Sheridan, Wyoming. Courtesy photo

Oglala Win World Indian Relay Crown
Hermis Tall greatest rider ever?
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

PINE RIDGE -- For the third consecutive year a team of Oglala Lakota horsemen have taken home the World Indian Relay Championship in Sheridan, Wyoming.

"It feels wicked to win it," said Stan Brewer, owner of the Brew Crew. The Brew Crew successfully defended their world championship title this past weekend in Sheridan. "It's really an honor to represent everyone back home and to do what no other team has ever done before," he added.

The team consisting of owner, Stan Brewer, stopper JB Chase Alone, Mugger, Mike Coleman, and possibly the greatest rider in the history of the modern-sport of Indian Relay, Hermis Tall, completed two historic feats by becoming the first team in history to win three World Indian Relay Championships in a row --Tall became the first rider to accomplish the feat.

"Hermis is one of the greatest riders to ever do it," said Brewer.

It wasn't an easy road to victory for the Brew Crew as they stumbled in the early races of the year. In one early race the team failed to log a time after a poor transition resulted in Hermis Tall stumbling to the ground.

If there was a track where the Brew Crew could find their stride it was most definitely in Sheridan. Sheridan has been a friendly track to the Brew Crew as the team has now run off three consecutive world titles there.

"The track there is a little narrower and a little shorter than most and some people do not like it," said Brewer. "For our horses the distance works out just right."

For this weekend's races the team of Oglala Lakota citizens used three big thoroughbreds and a fast quarter horse as part of their team. The horses were selected from dozens owned by the team because of their experience running at similar distances.

Coming into the championship heat the Brew Crew had been firing on all cylinders after winning two nights of races and having logged the fastest time of the weekend in the preliminary races.

Early in the race the Brew Crew found themselves trailing Starr School out of Browning, Montana.

"They (Starr School) had a perfect start and they we kind of saw them celebrating right after," said Brewer.

Starr School won the Championship at the Crow Native Days and had run strong all weekend leading up to the championship race and were one of the favorites to win it all.

In the sport of modern day Indian Relay the team consists of a team of four horsemen and three horses. After the start of e race the riders gallop around the track and come into their designated box (an imaginary box usually about 15 by 36 feet sometimes outlined in flour) where the other horses and team mates are supposed to congregate in order to orchestrate horse exchanges that very often decide the race.

As described by the Professional Indian Horse Racing Association during the exchange "the rider steps off his first horse, usually at a full gallop, briefly touches the ground and flies onto the back of the second horse being held by the set up man. The mugger is responsible for catching the first horse discarded by the rider. If the mugger loses the horse the team may be disqualified," wrote the organization on their website. "It takes a great deal of team work and bravery to grab a 1000 pound galloping horse to make sure it will not escape. Team work is a key to success in relay as it was to survival in the times of these men’s grandfathers and great grandfathers."

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Coming into the first exchange Hermis Tall found himself trailing Starr School by several lengths and nearly lost the race after a sketchy arrival into the box. The second horse in the Brew Crew's arsenal managed to cut Starr School's lead down from ten lengths to less than five coming into the exchange. It was at this point however that the race was decided as Hermis Tall pulled off the perfect transition by dismounting and cleanly leaping over the hind-end of his third horse. The exchange gave the Brew a lead that was protected by the experience of one of the best riders to ever do it.

"Once Hermis was on the final horse he held it back for the majority of the final run to save its legs. Starr School had to let its horse run hard the whole time to try and catch him but at the last second he let the reins go and the horse did the rest of the work," said Brewer.

The team would like to offer thanks to their friends and family who made the long journey from Pine Ridge to Sheridan and for all those who showed support via the Internet.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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