Steamboat couple will be rooting for Justify’s jockey in Triple Crown finale |

Steamboat couple will be rooting for Justify’s jockey in Triple Crown finale

Horseback riders can strengthen their core muscles and increase their sense of balance while training on the intentionally wobbly seat of a Balance Rider being promoted by Routt County couple Jim and Jo Lauter.
Courtesy photo

If you go:

What: Belmont Stakes party, introducing the Balance Rider fitness trainer

When: Party begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 9; race starts at 4:37 p.m. 

Where: McKnight's Irish Pub, 685 Marketplace Plaza

Details: There will be specials on food and drinks while the thoroughbred Justify seeks to claim the third jewel in the Triple Crown.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs residents Jo and Jim Lauter will be watching with more than casual interest Saturday when the thoroughbred Justify steps into the pole position with jockey Mike Smith aboard hoping to make Triple Crown history in the Belmont Stakes.

And the couple hope their friends and racing fans in the region will turn out for a special Belmont Party at 3 p.m. Saturday at McKnight’s Irish Pub. In addition to watching the pre-race festivities, the Lauters are eager to introduce their product, the Balance Rider, which was created to improve the posture of all horseback riders from intermediates to professional jockeys.

The Lauters, who have lived in the Elk River Valley since 1986, were afforded first place in the 2014 Yampa Valley SCORE Business Plan Competition. The couple said the prize money provided their fledgling business a leg-up, with Yampa Valley Bank, also playing a role in the growth of their business.

Jim Lauter invented the Balance Rider for his wife to help her increase her core strength and improve her seated balance. Over the winter of 2017-18, Jim set up camp in Ocala, Florida, known as a place where horseback riders gather for the winter, and had an opportunity to provide jockey Mike Smith with a Balance Rider.

Jo Lauter told Steamboat Pilot & Today that while Smith, 52, has not formally endorsed their product, he has used it as part of his workout regimen to help maintain his core strength. 

Jim Lauter, who has been an athletic coach and trainer, said the strength in the body’s core is the essence of balance, and balance, in turn, is the essential component for success in every form of physical activity.

“The better we ride, the less we hang onto our horses’ mouths, and the less we bounce on their shoulders and their kidneys, the happier those horses are,” Jo Lauter said. “The happier those horses are, the better their experience, and the better their performances.”

The Balance Rider resembles a leather-upholstered stool with a mounded seat that approximates the shape of a horse’s back. However, it’s no stool. It’s a specific exercise apparatus built to wobble from side to side and front to back. 

The challenge for users, is to use their legs and core strength to stay centered on the Balance Rider. If they can do that, they remain firmly in the saddle while their horse goes through a series of movements in the show ring.

Still, photos don’t do the Balance Rider justice — it’s best appreciated in a training video.

For more information, visit

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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