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Omaha Magazine

Horses in Nebraska Today

Mar 03, 2017 04:10PM ● By Garrett Sass

As technology has advanced and the role of horses has changed, the animals still remain an important component in the U.S. economy.

Horses are a multi-million dollar enterprise. Aside from the horses themselves, the industry encompasses feed, equipment, publications, veterinary care, advertising, entertainment, education, and many other fields that are either directly or indirectly affected by the equine industry.

One of the most comprehensive horse studies ever conducted by the American Horse Council revealed that horses contribute almost $40 billion in direct economic impact. The study also revealed that there are more than 9.2 million horses in the United States. And of those 9.2 million, 180,000 call Nebraska their home. From the ranches of western Nebraska, to the streets of downtown Omaha, horses are still writing their own history.

One of Omaha's noted horseman was Donovan "Van" Ketzler, who was one of the last cavalry instructors in the U.S. Army and his family is involved in Dehner Boots. Ketzler's 1989 brainchild, the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol unit started out as a test. Ketzler offered to loan two horses (Fox and Rusty), saddles, and trailers for a period of 30 days. After a successful trial period, the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol became a full-time unit within the Omaha Police department in April of 1990.  Today, the Mounted Patrol consists of six officers, one sergeant, one full-time barn manager, and eight horses. These officers and their trusted steeds have the same responsibilities as a normal patrol car.

Located at 615 Leavenworth Street, the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Unit’s state-of-the-art facility officially opened in May 2005. The facility includes offices and work areas, locker rooms, classrooms, a tack room, 15 horse stalls, a heated indoor arena, an outdoor arena, and a large heated garage area for parking trucks, trailers, and storage spaces for feed and bedding. The Mounted Patrol unit services the southeast precinct and downtown Omaha.

But it isn’t all work and no play for Nebraska’s horses.

A short 15-minute drive north, Horsemen’s Park is one of the finest simulcast facilities in the country. Opened on Jan. 3, 1998, Horsemen’s Park helps preserve live horse racing in Nebraska. With a seating capacity of 3,000 and over 700 televisions, horseracing enthusiasts can enjoy live racing broadcasts 363 days a year. Each summer, Horsemen’s Park plays host to live races on its 65-foot wide, 5/8 mile dirt race track.

Nebraska was granted statehood on March 1, 1867. In March 2017, Omaha Magazine published a collection of horse-related articles that appear in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping and FEI World Cup Dressage Finals held in Omaha. This was the fifth, and final, of those articles.The other articles in this series are:

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