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Banister promoted within IHRC

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The Indiana Horse Racing Commission recently promoted Joyse Banister of Fairland to the position of Standardbred Breed Development Program Coordinator.
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Two-year-old mare Ellie is among the five miniature horses Joyse Banister of Fairland raises and travels with to shows in various states when she is not working as the Standardbred Breed Development Program Coordinator within the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. The Appaloosa, born in Virginia, is double registered, AMHA/AMHR.

By LUANN MASON - For The Shelbyville News

Being around horses all her life continues to shape the personal and professional life of Joyse Banister.

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission (IHRC) recently named the Fairland resident coordinator of its Standardbred Breed Development Program.

With work for the 2019 horse racing season well underway, Banister’s promotion has her overseeing the Indiana Standardbred Racing program at the county fairs, coordinating the Indiana Sire Stakes to be raced at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in Anderson, and the Indiana-Sired Fair Circuit. Those wanting to race in these events nominate their horses in March and April, she said. Nominations are then processed, which determines entries in those races.

When it comes time for the county and State Fair races, Banister said she coordinates a staff that drug tests all of the winners of every race by collecting urine, and a veterinarian who draws blood for testing. Banister also collects and tabulates points from all the races for the awarding of prizes at the end of the season.

“June through October is the busiest time with races,” she said.

A Shelby County native and 1977 graduate of Triton Central High School, Banister was the Breed Development Residency Coordinator with IHRC for three years prior to this new appointment.

Neither of these positions, however, can be listed as her first experiences with horses. Horses have been a part of the 59-year-old’s life from the time she was born.

“It was bred into me,” she said. “We started out with horses when I was born. Dad (Royse Waltz) had horses since he was four years old.”

According to Banister, he “tinkered” in parades at first and even had a team of horses in the Indy 500 parade.

Waltz decided to race horses when she was in grade school. He raced Standardbred when Banister was in seventh grade until she was in 11th grade. He was a trainer and driver on the Indiana fair harness racing circuit for 14 years.

“That’s when the race horse pulls a two-wheel cart, known as a sulky,” Banister said. A driver occupies the sulky.

In order to race, drivers must obtain a license.

“It’s an extensive process,” Banister said. “You must be recommended by other drivers and go to Columbus, Ohio, to take an extensive test at the national headquarters for Standardbred licensing (United States Trotting Association).”

Banister was a freshman at Purdue University when she got her license, although she never drove in a race. Obtaining the license was for the purpose of accomplishment, she said. “It was a family thing.”

After graduating from Purdue with a bachelor degree in Animal Science and a minor area of study in Communications, Banister was a secretary for the Indiana Standardbred Board of Regulations for five years under then Lt. Gov. John Mutz and for the Commission. She then worked in the test barn at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino for 14 years.

Prior to January 2016 when she started her work with the IHRC, Banister said she worked on and off for 30 years with the National Pony Of the Americas Clubs, also known as POAC.

“I do horses 24/7,” Banister said. “I attribute my success to him (her father).” She is passionate to be continuing her father’s legacy in the harness racing business.

To this day, the 91-year-old Waltz remains active with Banister’s horses.

“He cleans five stalls a day,” she said, which is home to her show string of five miniature horses that Banister said she started raising about 20 years ago when her two daughters were grown. Both daughters also showed horses and currently live on farms -- Sarai Banister in central Michigan, and Amanda Gosser in Flat Rock with her husband, Brad, and three children.

“We bought one (miniature horse) with the intent of just having a family pet,” Banister said. But, two years later, the decision was made to show the horse in competitions. Today, Banister said she travels with her miniatures -- three mares and two stallions -- to shows in states throughout the year, including Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and Oklahoma.

Last year, her 10-year-old stallion named Favor won the supreme halter class at the Kentucky State Fair.

Banister is president of the Indiana Miniature Club.

Her employment experience and involvement with horses not only supports her love for the animals, but also for those involved with them. “They are special people. They’re like family.”