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Chris Murphy, Published July 20 2013

Horse racing Herman brothers compete to be front-runners


Belcourt, N.D., native Shaun Herman walked around the horse barn at the North Dakota Horse Park Saturday like it was a place he could maneuver through in the dark.

That’s because to the Hermans, the horse barn is home. The track is their playground and today the Herman brothers will go against one another on their father’s horses.

Shaun, 23, was searching for his 31-year-old brother Jeremy. He spoke a mile a minute to fellow riders in his part Native American, part German and part Canadian accent where his laugh was the only thing that didn’t require subtitles.

On the walk, surrounded by horses preparing to race, Shaun pointed at Hello Scarlet and said, “That’s my baby.”

The horse barn is their home and the horses are as much their family as their own flesh and blood. Just like family, there’s really no reason for the blind love except for the fact they were always there.

“In Belcourt, I was raised on horses,” Shaun said. “I love being around horses. I really don’t know why. I’ve been around them all my life. They’ve just been there. They are like your next best friends.”

Shaun and Jeremy both started racing when they were 16 years old and have been pitted against one another in races since, but the competition goes far beyond that.

“All my life we’ve been going against each other,” Shaun said. “He’s just another competitor.”

But they are family and lookout for one another.

“We watch out for each other,” Jeremy said. “If one of us is in front of the other, we’ll give a holler if someone is dropping in.”

As for who is the better racer, it depends on who gets asked.

“I’ll say me and he’ll say him,” Shaun said.

Shaun and Jeremy have a sister aged between them and a brother, Robert Jr., who is the oldest. Shaun said he and Jeremy are the racers because they are “riding weight,” but laughed and shook his head when asked if he was saying his siblings were too big. Robert Jr. is a trainer, just like his father Robert “Butch” Herman.

“It’s good,” Butch said when asked what it’s like to see his family share in something he cares about. “I grew up with horses and they’ve just always been there.”

Shaun and Jeremy make it pretty simple to figure out who dad is cheering for when they race against one another.

“Whoever is on his horse,” Jeremy said.

Shaun will be riding Hello Scarlet and Jeremy will be on Tattle Tale Cat Sunday, both owned by Butch.

Butch was adamant that his cheering is not based on which son is annoying him that week.

“They both do that every day,” Butch said. “I cheer for both of them.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548