Saskatoon: Night Three (June 6)

What a beautiful morning it was. The quietness at 6am is breathtaking. Not many bodies are up and at it. The horses whinny as Rick enters the barn to feed them their morning oats and then they are satisfied. I sat out and had a cup of java with Rick and visited with Chad Harden’s dad. Just shootin’ the breeze.

Mornings are my favourite time of the day. I think I’ve relayed that a few times before. In the quietness, it makes me feel so grateful for all that I’ve been given and for all that is around me. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful husband, three awesome adult kids and one GREAT grandkid.

This morning we were elated when two young ladies came to help with the barn chores. We met them the night before when one of their daughters was the lucky recipient of our little chuckwagon we hand out. So in chatting at our barn Rick said to Stephanie, who was visiting a chuckwagon race for the first time, “We’ll see you at 7am to help out with the morning chores.” Stephanie replied, “Do I meet you right here?” “You bet!” Rick replied, not thinking she would show.

Ricky was wrong! Stephanie and her sidekick showed up right at 7am, with Timmies coffee and doughnuts in hand, ready to be put to work. And work they did. One grabbed a pitchfork and the other the hose to fill the buckets up with fresh water. Stephanie, not ever having this kind of opportunity to get up close and personal with thoroughbred horses, was elated. What therapy this was for her. You see, Stephanie had a story to tell, unbeknownst to us.

Once chores were completed, we sat and enjoyed the warm sunshine and watched the horses stretch and play in their pens. In chatting, Stephanie shared a little of her current life with us. She had just returned from Germany, and her fiancé Cody is coming home from there today. Cody has cancer, at the young age of 26. He had chemo treatments here at home in Canada but then went abroad to Germany for more treatment. My heart was hurting for Stephanie and her situation. She sounded so strong, telling her story. At some point they were told he might only have three months to live. One really never knows anyone’s point of passing. But Stephanie came out, and was so thankful to come and join us in our morning duties with the horses. In her words, this was therapy. Cody was happy to hear that she was doing what she was. In the big picture of all things, chuckwagon racing means nothing, absolutely nothing, when you hear stories such as these. Keeping Stephanie and Cody in my prayers.

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Another great night of racing, but it was threatened by some rain in the late afternoon. The dark clouds burst out in raindrops a couple of times but then the wind blew the clouds away to bring more warmth and sunshine for the chuckwagons to begin at 7:15. Rick hooked the good ol’ boys—Speedy on Left Lead, Nickle on Right Lead, Sneekers and Left Wheel and Law on Right Wheel—with outriding horses Ace and Andy being ridden by Chanse and Dustin. Coming off barrel 3, Ricky came out alongside Kelly off of 1. Chad was not far behind, with Rae Croteau bringing up the rear. When the dust settled and the race was finished, Kelly crossed the finish line first, with Ricky second, posting a 1:18.55. That’s good enough for a 10th on the day, and our aggregate standing is a respectable eighth place for the meet.

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When Cody, our son, jumps in after the race he drives the outfit back to the barns. Rick grabs the little mini chuckwagon to give to a fan, and tonight the cutest little fella got to take it home. Gotta love those kids.

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After we get back to the barns, the chores are all done and the horses are tucked in for the night, it’s time to head to the Harden camp to watch the evening races, which Dori has taped. We all give our critiquing opinions, eat a bowlful of popcorn and then head to our bed for some much needed rest.

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Onward and upward to another day tomorrow. Time to hit the pillow.

Yesterday is but a dream. Tomorrow, a vision of hope. Look to this day for it is life.

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