Susan has devoted her entire lifetime to harness racing. She began training horses with her father as a teenager and has been involved ever since. In the 1970’s, she began a public training stable with her husband, Rick Schroeder whose named they trained under until 2004 when Susan obtained her own trainer’s license. Throughout the years Susan has raced at almost every pari-mutual track in the Midwest as well as many county fairs. Susan’s stable has trained seven top ten trotters, four top ten pacers, and captured Trotter of the Year honors in 2011 with Windsong Erica. Most recently, she created the Bucket List Racing Stable and offered 2% shares of horses to encourage new owners to get involved. In 2011, she raced Do Me Bliss at the Wisconsin and Illinois Fairs and in 2012 she helped take the Bucket List to Running Aces Harness Park with a horse named Tidbit and owners Ulf Holm-Johansen and Vern Devine. She is looking forward to 2013 and will be again offering shares of Do Me Bliss (who was undefeated on the Wisconsin circuit in 2012).
Wisconsin Harness Horse Association
Susan has devoted her entire life to the harness racing industry, specifically in Wisconsin. She is currently the longest running member of the Wisconsin Harness Horse Board of Directors, being elected in 1991–present. (22 consecutive years) She spent a decade that helm of the checkbook, serving as Treasurer. Susan has initiated budgeting to the WHHA board and consistently stressed the need for balanced books. If more money was needed to cover marketing expenses, she made sure it was known and raised. Upon her duties a Director, she initiated and edited the Wisconsin Harness News, thenewsletter published by the WHHA, in the mid 1980’s until the year 2000 when she handed it off to new director Gabe Wand. If it wasn’t for Susan’s drive and publication skills, the WHHA would never have been able to publish such a professional and informational newsletter. On top of the newsletter, she represented Wisconsin racing in the Illinois Standardbred & Sulky News by submitting monthly columns. Susan was a driving force in the 1980’s pushing for the pari-mutuel Bill in Wisconsin working countless days and nights to ensure the passage for Wisconsin to get a racetrack. She even took horses to the Capital Square in Madison in demonstration. The Bill eventually passed (despite last minute language additions that allowed Greyhound racing.) Susan has worked on every committee the WHHA has had, but most recently the love for marketing became her passion. It’s this passion that has helped Wisconsin becomethe industry leader in grassroots county fair harness racing, and the nation now looks to Wisconsin with vast appreciation. Promotions such as Owner for a Day, t shirt tosses, developing Willie Win It (our association mascot) and initiating driver meet and greets have been highlights to the crowd. Her Harness the Stars concept earned the WHHA the USTA BLUE RIBBON FAIR AWARD in 2012–the first time any racing association received this honor. Her work on this project ensured the WHHA a place in national history and an eight page spread in Hoof Beats Magazine.
Youth in Harness Racing
Over 1,200 children have sat behind a Standardbred thanks to Susan. She began conducting one day youth camps at her farm in the mid-1980’s in conjunction with the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. Susan’s drive to continue these camps which were endorsed by the WHHA outlasted any other state as Wisconsin was the last state to offer these camps. In 2012, she and Ellen Taylor (executive director of HHYF) put together a Midwest Youth Camp Tour that encompassed camps in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. In 2000, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation voted to give Susan their prestigious Service to Youth Award. To give some insight on the merit of this award, some of the other recipients are industry greats, Stan Bergstein, John Campbell, Ellen Harvey and Hoosier Park. The following year, Susan had her own Harness Hero Trading Card.
Filling A Void
With Wisconsin’s aging membership, we began to see a decline in our ‘old faithful’ racing officials. Susan took it upon herself to help fill these voids. In 2003 she became USTA licensed Clerk of the Course and took on the task of reporting entries and results for all Wisconsin race meets via the RTS Computer System provided by the USTA. In 2006, she became a licensed presiding judge and has judged all over the State of Wisconsin. Susan has brought a sense of consistency and fairness to the meets she judges and works towards improving racing’s public image. In 2007, she obtained her Charter’s license. Without her, Wisconsin would not have any charted races. She was also called upon by Prairie Meadows race track to chart their races during their 2007 race meet.
In addition to all of the above donated time and skills to harness racing, Susan has always made her living in some way in the harness racing industry. She has owned and trained a public stable for almost 40 years. Susan has worked at the prestigious Walsh Harness & Saddlery as their General Manager. She worked with Omega Alpha, a pharmaceutical company that markets all natural horse products. She was a Standardbred tack dealer, promoting JH Harness, a startup company that develops and sells Xtreme Racing tack. Most recently, Susan has moved to neighboring Minnesota as the first ever Executive Director of Minnesota Harness Racing Inc.
As you can see, Susan’s lifelong devotion to harness racing is second to none. Yes, working in the industry has allowed her to make a living, but the time she has spent volunteering for Wisconsin racing is unmatched. She has allowed harness racing in the Badger State thrive, has taken Wisconsin county fair racing to the national level, and despite now being a resident of Minnesota, she continues to strive to take Wisconsin to new levels.