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Bad River Suicide ?Race at Fort Pierre, SD

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Paula

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Has anyone seen photos of the Bad River Suicide Race (Fort Pierre, SD)? Years ago I saw some pictures in a newspaper but can not find any on the internet.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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I wonder if the Western Horseman would have some in their archives? :?

I was thinking I had seen some but it might have been the Omak Washington race I was thinking about.
 

Paula

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No doubt, but that was a pretty good test of horse and rider. People think that driving around in a circle at great speeds is a good test of human endurance, but a race like the Bad River Race was a test of a person and horse working together. I always wanted to see the course, how tough it was, etc. Don't even know when they quit running it. Would just like to know more about it. There is an amazing woman who won this several times, Bobbi Reeves Palczewski, but she does not have any pictures of it either and said she had never seen any pictures.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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I did come across this article about Bobbi Reeves' father,
Dean Reeves
By Mel Anderson

Dean Reeves, a cowboy rancher and breeder of fine foundation registered Quarter Horses, will be honored posthumously at The Old Timers' Breakfast and Pioneer Awards on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010 at The Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City in conjunction with the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo events.

Dean took his new bride, Emma Lou (Johnson) to a location southeast of Eagle Butte, SD. They eagerly started to build a ranch and raise a family on this gumbo plain next to the Oahe Reservoir. He built his ranch up from scratch as there were no corrals, buildings, or even a fence post to tie a horse to.

His story reads like a sequel to Little House on the Prairie. Dean and his constant companion, Dell Louis (Scope) Yellow Head moved three granaries to the site where he planned to spend the balance of his life ranching, producing the best Foundation Quarter Horses in the breed and to raise his family.

Daughter Bobbi remembers her big brother, Jim, and she sitting on a cement block eating chicken and dumplings while watching her dad and Scope nail up chicken wire with a nail punched through bottle caps, readying the building for stucco. Dean and Scope trowled the mud to the surface with mom (Emma Lou) mixing the cement with a hoe in a trough.

The family was completely satisfied with the results of their newly-remodeled home. The day they moved in will never be forgotten as this was the day they heard on their radio in the old Chevy pickup that the young President Kennedy had been shot.

No running water nor bathroom in the house for 17 years! Since the Oahe Reservoir was more than 2 ½ miles distant, the stock dam just over the hill was more available.

Dean would hitch his team to the wagon loaded with 50-gallon barrels, back the wagon into the dam and proceed to dip the barrels full with a bucket. I don't imagine that they wasted much water.

Dean wasn't a bragger or a glory seeker. The only vain thing about him was his boots. He always wore custom-made boots.

He did, however, make the spotlight once in Las Vegas. (He loved to go there to watch son, Tom, ride.) Dean got passed some counterfeit money and, not knowing it, proceeded to use it at the tables. He was unceremoniously escorted off by security and detained for several hours. He was finally released when they discovered he was just an old cowboy and not a counterfeiter.

Emma Lou and Jim looked for him for half a day before they found him. Dean said with a big grin on his face, “it was jut like TV with a light hanging above my chair!”

He knew when to speak and when to be silent. To take the good with the bad. Perhaps, Bobbi says it best as she remembers her dad braiding her hair when she was a child, and how he loved giving gifts at Christmas. “Basically, dad taught me how to make it through the tough times,” says Bobbi.

Mary, Bobbi's sister, says, “Dad was always calm. I could always talk to him. He said if I couldn't handle a problem, it wouldn't have been dealt out to me in the first place!”

Oldest son, Jim, who rode broncs in the Badlands Circuit with great success, said of his dad, “He was a real cowboy. He had no fear of a horse, and they sensed it. Dad showed respect to his horses and wouldn't be rough with them. He might get bucked off, but he would get back on.” There wasn't much Dean couldn't do horseback on about any horse!

Tom, the youngest son is in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and went to the National Finals Rodeo 18 times. Probably one of his most memorable occasions was winning the World Championship in 2001. “I was just always wanting my dad to be proud of my accomplishments,” says Tom.

Daughters, Bobbi and Mary, never rodeoed a lot, but they ‘sure could get around horseback', as Tom puts it.

Bobbi, not to be outdone by her brothers, took a Reeves' bred horse to the famous Bad River Suicide Race at Fort Pierre where they ran up steep inclines, slid down shale banks at breakneck speed and raced through water holes. Bobbi and her horse, Cat, were put in the record books as the first woman to ever win the race in 1981. Eighty-two entries were in that race and Bobbi still holds the record for the fastest time.

Bobbi won the Suicide Race several times. This particular race she won in 1981 holds special significance for Bobbi.

“Times were hard for us that year,” she says. “Money was important to us. Dad bought me in the Calcutta for $1,000. We won the race and the Calcutta paid off much more than the prize money.”

Mary, who lives near Belle Fourche, is taking advantage of her father's mentorship by starting horses and training them for barrel racing.

Dean Reeves was born Oct. 12, 1936 and died on May 25, 2008, resulting from an accident while working on his ranch. Emma Lou Reeves said, “He died with his boots on doing what he loved to do.”

The Reeves Family has established a scholarship in Dean's name to be awarded to a participant in High School Rodeo who excels at both ends of the arena: two riding events and one roping event.
 

Faster horses

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There was a movie based on the Bad River Suicide Ride. I'll can't remember
the name of the movie tho. I'll have to think about it..........a girl won it
riding an Appaloosa, as I recall.

There were pictures of it in the late 70's also. And I think in the Western
Horseman, but not positive. I remember where we were at the time
and we had an incredible horse that I always thought should have
been an entry. Guess that's why I paid so much attention to the event
through the years.

BMR, that was really interesting reading about the Reeves.
Thanks for posting the story.
1963 wasn't all that long ago in years, but a great long time ago as
far as technology. Imagine them listening to the radio in their pickup.
Of course, they had no house at that time. They really did 'start from
scratch.' Anyhow, as I said, very interesting reading. They certainly were
successful in many ways.
 

Soapweed

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Faster horses said:
There was a movie based on the Bad River Suicide Ride. I'll can't remember
the name of the movie tho. I'll have to think about it..........a girl won it
riding an Appaloosa, as I recall.

There were pictures of it in the late 70's also. And I think in the Western
Horseman, but not positive. I remember where we were at the time
and we had an incredible horse that I always thought should have
been an entry. Guess that's why I paid so much attention to the event
through the years.

BMR, that was really interesting reading about the Reeves.
Thanks for posting the story.
1963 wasn't all that long ago in years, but a great long time ago as
far as technology. Imagine them listening to the radio in their pickup.
Of course, they had no house at that time. They really did 'start from
scratch.' Anyhow, as I said, very interesting reading. They certainly were
successful in many ways.

I saw the movie "Run, Appaloosa, Run" when I was a kid. It's a real good show, and features the Omak Suicide Ride at Omak, Washington. The rodeo clown, Wilber Plaugher, plays a big part in the show. Here is a review found on the internet:

Set against the majestic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest comes a thrilling, action-packed story of Mary Blackfeather, a young Native American horse trainer, who adopts an Appaloosa colt she names Holy Smoke. But after she's forced to sell her beloved horse, Mary discovers that he's being mistreated and fights to get him back. Determined to prove to everyone that Holy Smoke is a true winner, Mary trains the spirited stallion for the Suicide Relay Race, the roughest, toughest and wildest horse race in America. On DVD for the first time, RUN, APPALOOSA, RUN is heart-tugging excitement that will gallop away with your family's hearts.
 

mrj

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I don't recall if there were news stories or photo's from those races. We attended most, if not all of them. They definitely were exciting! The course was up over the loose shale hills to the right of the grandstand when facing the chutes at the rodeo grounds, across some draws, up, down and around some of the other hills, back into the arena where they had a water pit, and I don't recall if they went around the race track (around the outside of the arena) before or after the hills and water, or if they didn't even use the track.

It was very dangerous. Many riders were injured, some quite severely, I believe. I'm a nervous spectator anytime injuries can be life threatening, so probably missed some stuff when my eyes were closed!!!

I suspect it was liability and animal cruelty accusations which ended those races. I do believe the animals were treated well by MOST of the riders, but if they were not well conditioned, or were not trained well, or too young, they could have been hurt by an inexperienced rider, too.

There were some other courses, one being in the Badlands, south of Kadoka along hiway #63. I never saw any of the races there.

The story by Mel Anderson is great! We went to several horse sales at Dean Reeves ranch, and bought some. A favorite being a nice blue roan who sadly got moon blindness and injured his foot badly when he didn't see a culvert and stepped off the edge of it and got a bad cut.

We have also enjoyed following Tom Reeves' riding career, getting a good photo or several of him at Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeos.

mrj
 

Paula

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MRJ Do you have any idea of the newspapers who might have covered this race?
Does Fort Pierre have a newspaper that was operating then? Thank you for the great reporting.
I have always been intrigued with this race and years ago wanted to run in it. We just didn't have the resources or time at that time. Jesse Bail is our neighbor and Tom Reeves was quite good to him, I think. Salt of the earth type of people.
 

mrj

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Paula, I'm not sure if the Ft. Pierre paper was still going back then, but may have been. In any case, the Pierre Times probably was and believe they acquired the Ft. paper, but not certain.

Possibly someone at the Casey Tibbs museum could help. Or the Verendrye Museum, which has a website under that name.

I'll ask around for more info.

mrj
 

ghedman89

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Pictures from 1975 race, from KGFX Scrapbook. https://m.facebook.com/dakotaradiogroup/posts/1189997971034745
 

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