High River: Night Four (June 21)

Today was a long day. When I first opened my eyes and ears for the morning, I heard rain, rain and more rain. This is really not what one wants to hear on a race day.

Rick headed out to feed morning oats. He came back a little soggy from the moisture, as I had the rain gear tucked away and his boots were also not reachable.

I put the coffee on just as a visitor arrived. Ralph Nelson popped by. His late father Lloyd drove chuckwagons years ago and Ralph used to do some outriding. We had a great chat as the rain continued to fall. The girls managed to get the chores all taken care off and came in for a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.

Once that was all cleared away, another local fellow named Robert stopped in. We rent a bit of pasture off of him during High River for our outriding horses. This works great for us as the pen space we have is fairly small. We prefer not to put too many horses in pens together in case they get fighting; injuries could arise.

Well, the day continued on and the skies let up for a bit of sunshine peaking through here and there. I zoomed off to town to fuel up the vehicles, reload the propane bottles and grab just a few more groceries. Once I returned, it was time to pack up the trailer before the races began at 4. Not to mention the kids were hungry again so some leftovers got used up. We did pretty good folding up one side of the liner before race time and putting away what things we could that we didn’t need, which would help us leave for Ponoka much earlier.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon for racing. The sun shone and it was fairly warm out too. As we were still in the ninth heat, our routine stayed pretty much the same. Our hook today was Speedy on the Left Lead, Nickle on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. They sure did look good out there coming off of barrel 3.

The track was heavy today so times were a bit slower than the other days. The horses started good and ran hard three wide. Our heat was a fast one, surprisingly; I thought it would be slower as the track got used more. That in turn gave us a good time, as we posted a 1:18.92, good enough for fifth on the day. So happy about that. Our outriders rode well and refrained from getting any penalties whatsoever. Cole and Dustin rode Ace and Andy. Kirk Sutherland won the day money in our heat. Once the times were calculated, Mitch Sutherland came out on top, taking home the Guy Weadick High River 2015 title. Congratulations to him.

Team 23 hustled their hineys, got things packed up in short order and was on the road by around 7:30pm. It was smooth sailing all the way to Ponoka, and we arrived close to 10pm. There was still some daylight left for setup, but not much. My little swamper Coy petered out only 20km from Ponoka. Too much playing in all that fresh air with the kids today.

We all hustled like little bumble bees setting up the pens, unloading the horses and then setting up the barn. It took us a couple of hours and then we came to the trailer for a snack before heading to bed.  Oh, and I just had to sit down and write for you all. I didn’t want you to wake up and be disappointed with no blog to be had. Thanks, all, for being such faithful followers.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

Well, I best get to bed. Morning comes early and I have a pile of laundry to get done.

Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss or dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt by the heart.

High River: Night Three (June 20)

Today was just a laid-back kind of day for me. Up early as usual, and as we have our grandson Coy with us I got to miss out on morning chores. The girls and Rick got the chores done and then Rick headed into Calgary to prepare the stalls for the upcoming Calgary Stampede. It’s just nicer to get it done before we arrive. Coy enjoyed the day playing with all the other chuckwagon kids nearby.

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I’m not sure where the rest of the day went, although a few visitors did stop by, so we took the time to sit and chat. The weather was very sketchy today. Sometimes warm, a little downpour of rain, a cold wind and even a rainbow in the distance. Best of all, though, the rain stayed away for the races.

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Rick decided to keep the same hook, but switch out Speirman for Air on the Right Lead position. Zorba was on the Right Wheel, Vegas on the Left Wheel and Spirit on the Left Lead. The same two outriders, Cole and Dustin, were again paired up with Beau and Trixtor. They continue to do their job well with no issues at all.

Just before the horn sounded Zorba jumped just a bit ahead, enough to make the wagon move forward but not enough to cause it to be ahead of the barrel. The outfit started better today than yesterday but Air didn’t turn so well on the Right Lead. Ricky came out after Kirk on 1 barrel but chose to race alongside him. The race was a good crowd-pleaser at the finish line as all four wagons were fairly close together. We posted a 1:19.47 on the day, good enough for a 19th placing, which puts us 28th in the aggregate.

Looks like we might get some rain tonight. Will be a busy day tomorrow, packing up belongings before the races to be prepared to head out to Ponoka immediately after the meet.

The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.

High River: Night Two (June 19)

It’s Friday already. Seems like we just arrived. We were up and at it early. Rick fed the ponies while I got myself dressed and ready to go out the door. We had a date! To the local Tim Hortons.

Actually Jody Seeley from Sun Country 99.7 was broadcasting live there this morning and the WPCA drivers were invited to come and join her. We were also joined by rodeo announcer Mike Labelle and rodeo clown Dennis Halstead. We had lots of laughs with the customers driving through and the guys signed some posters to give away.

One of the customers came through in a very fancy convertible. Rick, in his humour, asked if he could go for a ride. The fella obliged, Rick jumped in and they were gone! It wasn’t too long and he returned with a big grin on his face. They were flying!

Shortly thereafter one of Rick’s old schoolmates, Tim, came through in his done-up pick-up truck. Well, Rick has had the opportunity to drive this baby the last couple of years that we’ve been here. He’s fallen in love with this truck. Rick took Mike for a quick spin to show it off. I just shook my head. I say, “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys!”

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And before we left, a local RCMP constable showed up for a coffee. The boys all sauntered over to have a chat and take a photo. They really wanted to drive his car. But no go!

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Upon our return to the barn, we saw the girls had worked efficiently and had gotten all the morning chores completed. It was time for breakfast. We enjoyed a nice visit, with our meal out in the warm sunshine while the morning practice wagons began to roll. We headed over to the track to watch a few, then the girls saddled some of our outriding horses to go out for a lap or two. I ventured off to the grocery store to fill up the cupboards again.

Coy, our grandson, arrived right at supper time, just before the races. He had hitched a ride with our relative Brace to spend a couple of days with us here.

Tonight we were off the money barrel, as some may call it. But tonight it unfortunately didn’t work for us. The team of Spirit on Left Lead, Speirman on Right Lead, Vegas on Left Wheel and Zorba on Right Wheel didn’t start too badly at the sound of the horn. Rick turned the top barrel but coming to the bottom that Left Wheeler kept leaning to the left, just enough to have the barrel in our way.

Rick Fraser Team 23

I don’t usually like to post the photo of a knocked barrel but hey it happens and no one is exempt from it happening at sometime in their career. Our outriders Cole and Dustin rode Beau and Trixter tonight and both did superb jobs. They all are great athletes.

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Growth means change and change involves risks, stepping from the known to the unknown.

High River: Night One (June 18)

We arrived safely into the town of High River on Tuesday around 2pm. On the way out of Medicine Hat, there was a big truck DOT (Department of Transportation) stop. Some of the chuckwagon outfits got pulled over and checked out for different things.

We managed to bypass them, thank goodness. We don’t need any trouble there. We do get our trucks inspected before we hit the trail in the spring, so we really have nothing to worry about. It’s more of a hassle when you have livestock on because you don’t want them to have to sit too long in the trailer.

The three-hour trip here was just right. A good time for me to just sit and think. The weather was perfect when we arrived and the committee had mowed all the grass where we parked. It looked so nice. We got the pens set up in record time and unloaded the ponies to run around and eat fresh grass. It sure didn’t take long for more of the outfits to fill the grounds. I always say we are a band of travellers going from town to town doing what we love.

Yesterday the rain settled in for a good part of the day so we decided that it must be a movie/nap afternoon kind of day. First though Rick and I headed into town on a date, just the two of us…to Peavey Mart. One of my favourite stores. We were on the hunt for a “Y” for the hose. We found one.

Then we also came out with some bright orange “Colt Cosgrave” socks for Rick! He just had to have them.

And one other thing came out with us too, a new cooler for the beverages. It’s supposed to be some great item that keeps your ice frozen way longer than most others. We’ll see just how that fares for us as the summer goes by. So far, I think it was a good purchase.

From there it was back to the grounds to cuddle in to watch a movie. It was no thriller to say the least, as Rick fell asleep in the first 10 minutes. I watched it right until the bitter end, hoping it would get better but it didn’t. NEXT!

CBC crew

Today Greg and his right-hand man from CBC arrived to do some filming and interviewing. They wanted to put together a story on our grey wheeler Zorba. Last year, Zorba had some health issues so we had him looked after by some local vets and Renault from the university. It really was amazing what they did, how they helped him and that he is back in the so-called bullpen today. We are so thankful. They will be airing this sometime during the Calgary Stampede.

Rick Fraser Team 23

So Rick and his equine team tonight were placed in the ninth and final heat coming off the 4 barrel. Alongside were Kurt Bensmiller on 1, Obrey Motowylo on 2 and Kirk Sutherland on 3. The hook tonight was our short barrel team of Speedy on Left Lead, Nickle on Right Lead, Sneakers on Left Wheel and Law on Right Wheel.

Chanse couldn’t ride for us this time as he’s riding for Kirk. So we hired up Cole Somerville to hold the leaders on Ace and we still had Dustin throwing stove with Andy. Cole did an excellent job holding the leaders, Rick said. Cole was excited to hear that.

When the horn blew, the horses started and charged hard. They maybe didn’t get the rail but were three wide all the way around the track and managed to cross the finish line first, stopping the clock at a 1:16.99, good enough for sixth on the day.

I think he had an edge to go just that little bit faster at the end when his hat blew off. Ricky’s hat never falls off. I think I will have to get him one of those strings to tie under his chin if this keeps up.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Thank you to TerraCore Rentals for sponsoring us this race meet here in High River.

We were so happy to meet a little fan named Zack tonight, along with his little sister Ali.

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You see, Zack was the lucky recipient who received our mini chuckwagon giveaway after the race. Zack showed so much excitement when he came back to the barn. He couldn’t say thank you enough. He was all smiles.

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Ricky signed a poster for the kids, gave them a few candies and then they all climbed up into the wagon for a photograph. Those kids sure made our day.

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I have to tell you, we learned today that a close friend’s family member passed on today. Just a young person in about their 20s. Broke our hearts to hear this, and my heart hurts for the parents. Every day is a special day and we need to live every day to the fullest with no regrets.

Be grateful for small things, big things and everything in between. Count your blessings, not your problems.

Medicine Hat: Night Five (June 15)

It’s kind of chilly here in Medicine Hat. This morning I think it registered in the plus-5° range. I needed to put my hoodie on to keep warm outside.

Do you ever slowly wake up in the morning, and think…just five more minutes, then doze off again, wake up and do this a few more times? I was guilty of that this morning. Just didn’t want to get out of bed.

The team got busy doing the chores while I busied myself tiding the trailer for departure tomorrow. We hooked an outfit of the good ol’ boys to give them a blow. Evan Salmond jumped in to give Rick a hand as Cody had to go home yesterday. They were a little fresh and a little hard to hold, especially that grey, Zorba. All went well, though.

Once we finished that up, I had to zip into town to do a grocery run and pick up some feed for the ponies. Costco wasn’t very busy, thank goodness, so I was in and out fairly quickly. I got to go to the new location of the Co-op store just south of the city to pick up the beet pulp for the horses. Very nice, brand-new building.

Team 23 horse collar

chuckwagon outrider

Tonight we were in the ninth heat, just a little bit earlier. Rick decided to let Cole ride Stadium and throw stove. He did a super job. Chanse Vigen is a pro on Beau holding leaders.

Rick changed up his hook tonight just by changing out one horse. Air was on Left Lead, Ranger on Right Lead, Duba on Left Wheel and Friendly on Right Wheel.

Coming into barrel one, Duba was a handful to hold. They went just a bit ahead of the barrel and also failed to stop when the horn blew. We were assessed two seconds for wagon ahead of barrel, one second for failing to stop and one second for interference. The judges thought he went too wide into barrel two area. Rick’s wagon wheel just knocked the bottom of barrel two. Tough luck!

Rick Fraser chuckwagon

A HUGE thank you to Northwell Oilfield Hauling for sponsoring us here in the Hat and along the tour. They are the best!!!

In the final heat for the dash, Johnny Walters came out on top, coming off barrel one racing against Obrey Motowylo and Evan Salmond. Johnny wins some shiny new hardware for that run.

We are off and running early tomorrow morning to the sights of High River, Alberta, just a short three-hour drive. Hoping the weather treats us well there.

It is more useful to be aware of a single shortcoming in ourselves than it is to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.