Veteran trainer gets plenty of help from wife

Farm Forum

Bob Johnson is one of the most successful horse trainers in South Dakota, but even he can’t do it all by himself.

The Lemmon man has trained horses for almost 40 years. He has racked up more than 1,000 career wins and trains all year round. He owns and operates Johnson Racing Stables.

He gets a big helping hand from his wife, Shilo Johnson, whom he calls the “other half of the operation.”

“She would be the one that makes sure things get done,” Bob Johnson said about his wife. “She is the anchor.”

His anchor is no stranger to the horse races either. Shilo (Sortino) Johnson grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., and was exposed to the horse racing scene at a young age. Shilo’s stepfather, Bill Parker, was a longtime thoroughbred trainer that won more than 800 races.

“My great-grandparents had race horses,” she said. “My great-grandma made racing silks for trainers on the back side. My mom is a horse trainer, too. My whole family has done it. I have been around it my whole life.”

Shilo Johnson, 40, has done a little bit of everything as well. She’s worked in the racing office at the track in Denver, Colo., and was also the simulcast director at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. Shilo is currently the secretary/point secretary for the South Dakota Quarter Horse Racing Association, while Bob is one of the board of directors.

Shilo Johnson is currently training 12 horses right now. She also cleans the stalls and will haul horses to the track when Bob is at a different location.

“While I am gone or even when I am here, she makes sure that everything gets done,” Bob Johnson, 57, said. “She keeps track of things for me because you can only keep track of so much. It is a relief for me to know that it is going to get done. She keeps track of things. She knows what is going on with those horses.”

The Johnsons’ only down time is around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but other than that they’re always working toward this time of year. That is why Shilo Johnson said watching the horse races is her favorite part of the process.

“We get excited in the spring because we worked hard all fall,” she said.

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