Over 50 years ago, many in Palo Alto County followed four teams of pony drivers and their outriders: Jack Acreage, Lloyd Bates, Roland "Rollie" Lammers and Harold DeMoss.
It was an era of the pony and horse chuck wagon races. These men competed in the pony, rather than the horse, and had an extended family for many years.
Some of the racers that are still with us are Vinny Lammers, John Janssen, and Larry and Lonnie Acreage. After a time, they stopped racing and took up other hobbies in their lives but always the stories continued even up to this day.
Those inspirational stories have influenced a Palo Alto County local who is now achieving that dream.
Jimmy Albrant of Emmetsburg is that local young man and is a third generation of working with horses and a fourth generation growing up.
Having started out with pony chariots from 2011 2012, he changed to the thoroughbred chuck wagon races in 2013 and still is racing. Jimmy is backed by his family; parents, Dan and Jean Albrant of Emmetsburg, grandfather, Jim Albrant of Emmetsburg and his loving wife, Kim (another part of his inspiration) and their two young boys of Emmetsburg, he has been achieving his goals.
As his mother, Jean, stated, it is always the women who really back up their men in events like this.
Jimmy and his team, The White J, practice regularly and it takes a lot of hard work. Other than Jimmy's family and the families of his team members, all the other teams and their families also help out at the races for any reason imaginable.
Jimmy's team consists of: Dan Albrant, Emmetsburg; Jamie Klatt, Laurens; and Jason Korleski, Clarksville, who is their fill in outrider as they are looking for a longer term outrider.
The long-standing tradition of everyone helping everyone involves a lot of work. Harnessing and un-harnessing horses, setting up the wagon, and cooling the horses off after the race by walking, are just a few of the many things they all help each other out with.
Starting in June and ending September, they have August off due to the heat issues. The White J team races all over Iowa; Nashua, Allison, Central City, Humbolt, Sac City, Aldora and the Clay County Fair in Spencer.
When asked about the name of the team, Jimmy said that it was the name of team member Jamie Klatt's grandfather's team in Spencer.
The original White J was a team run by Vick Klatt of Spencer. The differences of racing from then to now have changed. The barrel pattern of the race, shorter track and ONLY running quarter horses and/or thoroughbreds are allowed. During racing, there are 32 horses per heat at one time for the men and there are eight wagon owners with some being partners.
There are four outriders and one driver. The four outriders each have a job as part of the race itself. One puts the camp stove in the wagon, one folds the flaps of the tent into the wagon, one holds the three outriders horses and one holds the lead team and directs the horses out to the track.
There is also the Powder Puff division for the ladies and consists of one driver, two outriders and has 16 horses racing at one time. There are two heats per race and there are no tents or stoves.
Jimmy does most of his own training. Every day the horses are worked with. Kim stated that it takes about one hour a day for chores even during the off- season as that is when it starts all over again for the next season.
Kim and Jimmy both said it is a lot of hard work for a one and a half minute race, where the horses eat better than they do, but they achieve a lot in the end.
The most exciting time for Jimmy is the adrenaline rush waiting in camp for the gun and his greatest accomplishment is jumping on a running horse.
Jimmy wanted to stress that you can't just buy a team and get involved in chuck wagons. A person has to be voted in to the group as it's not just about yourself but also about those around you and even at that you are on one-year probation. You also get fined if you do not go to a race and there are points to think about as you do not lose points by not showing up but you also do not get any points.
It is a hard hobby but one of the end results is that the Albrant family not only is able to spend a lot of time