High River, Alberta Day #2

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

What a beautiful morning.  The sky was clear as ever and it looked like it was going to be a great day weather wise.  With the morning chores and breakfast out of the way, Rick and I watched a few wagons doing a practice session out at the track.

As I didn’t have the best sleep last night,  I decided I better lay down for an early nap to keep up with my rest.  10:30am I put my head phones on and dozed off.  Next thing I knew it was after 1 o’clock.  I knew I needed that rest.

Early afternoon, and I needed to get out and exercise.  I decided to jump on my pedal bike and go for a cruise.  I pedaled through the nearby community of High River, then headed out onto the road that leads to a little town called Longview.  The site out west is so breathtaking.  The Great Canadian Rockies were in view, despite the clouds that rolled in.  If you are not from Alberta, and you ever get the chance to come our way, you need to put our province on your bucket list, because there are so many great places to come and see.


The Threateing Sky’s

5 pm, and we heard that the rain was coming down in the city of  Calgary just to the north of us.  It looked like it could have dumped on us too at any moment.  Fortunately, it never did and the races rolled on.


Turning the Top

Cody had a nice turn tonight around his top barrel.  But when he continued on to turn the bottom,  he just didn’t drive around it far enough and shazam, it was down.  So unfortunate.  As there were so few penalties tonight, it placed him down at 35th spot.


Going Full Force to the Track

Ricks hook tonight were Trick (LW), Law (RW), Nickle (LL) and Speedy (RL) .  He moved to the three barrel tonight and had a very decent run considering he ran 3 wide the whole way round.  Its quite heavy out there three wide.  Unfortunate to be assessed 1 second in penalty, as the one outrider was late.  Cole was riding Stadium and holding the leaders, while Shawn rode Corn Whiskey throwing the stove. 30th on the day is where we finished.  We are going to get these penalties out of our system yet.



The Shadow


Checkin for Outriders

Rick wears a Go-Pro pretty much every night.  Here, you can see how he checks back to make sure his outriders are within their allotted length before the Chuckwagon crosses the finish line.  In this game, you just cannot afford any infractions.  With our penalty tonight, we sat 30th for the day, and 29th overall.


The Biggest Smile and Pretty in Pink

When I saw this young lady, it made me happy.  She was the lucky one to receive our mini chuckwagon giveaway.  It feels good to put a smile on someone elses face.

As I close up this letter, the rain is coming down.  Its going to be muddy tomorrow around here.  I best get the rubber boots out from the storage compartment.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S. The more we give of anything, the more we shall get back.





High River, AB Day #1

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

“Team 23” decided to stay back in Medicine Hat a few days extra after the completion of the races.  The facility is very nice there, with lots of room for the horses.  Tuesday afternoon came along, and the rain began to fall.  We didn’t expect that to happen, which made it for a muddy situation.


The Boys Waiting to be Loaded

It did stop by late evening, but was still quite muddy early Wednesday morning for pack up.  Always looking for the positive in things,  it was not raining.  We got out of town by 8 am, with smooth sailing to High River, arriving at 12 noon to a very dusty, dry and hot afternoon.


Knaughty Nets & Pets Sponsor

We are always looking for unique and new ways to provide our horses with what they need.  Knaughty Nets & Pets is a new company out of Millet, AB that has provided us with hay nets to feed our horses when traveling.  They are handy, dandy and our horses love being able to eat good hay while on the road.


Banana Bread Anyone?

Talking about eating, our crew loves to eat.  But I have it figured out.  If the crew eats well, they work well.  I had some very ripe bananas laying around, so I  put them to good use in a batch of banana bread baked in my Travelin Trailer oven.  Oh the smell was so good, and it tasted even better too!


Movie Night at The Hardens

On race nights, we have movie nights.  A bunch of us gather at the Harden trailer to review that days races.  The guys especially love watching, as it helps them to see  just what their horses are doing.  Sometimes, when they don’t perform to the capability that they can, its good to go over the film to see just what is going on.  And of course, Denver Harden is always in for a tease or two when the big boys arrive.


The Fork Tells A Story

Once we got all set up on the grounds in High River, I was walking the path nearby, and found this fork lying on the ground.  The shape of it intrigued me.  So I picked it up and brought it back with me.  I had to tell a story.  To me, this fork resembles many of us, or I guess, all of us.  We are all unique.  There is no one that is perfect.  We all have our special features. We are all full of worth, value and beauty.  Each of us just needs to affirm it within.


Cody see’s his Momma taking his Picture!

Cody had a pretty nice turn off the 4 barrel tonight.  I wasn’t able to see it because I was stationed on the 1st turn taking photos.  It was pretty cool, cause when he came flying by, he seen me, and smiled for the camera!  He loves his momma!!!  12th on the day, but could have been 5th. He  was so speedy, one of his outriders was just a wee bit late causing a 1 second penalty.


Leading the Pack

Rick on the other hand, came a little bit short around the top barrel, and took it down.  Darn it!  But having said that, he still had a very speedy time, which would have been a day money run but instead put us down to 29th.  So we always like to look  at our running time without penalties at the end of the day.  We hooked Spirit (LL), Spin (RL), Law (LW) and Glory (RW).  Cole partnered up with Stadium holding the leaders and we hired Shawn Calfrobe to throw stove riding Andy.  They both got the job done well.


A Happy Nova Scotia Tourist

tonight’s crowd was the smallest I’ve ever seen at the Guy Weadick days here in High River.  This lady however, was cheering the loudest and received our mini chuckwagon giveaway.  She was pretty happy.

The guys always lend a hand getting outfits ready, and hopping in the wagon with each other.  Tonight, long time friends, Rick and Mike Vigen paired up, and son’s Cody gave Chanse Vigen and hand.  The generation continues.


Stadium and Andy

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S. When faced with a decision—decide.  When faced with a choice—choose.  Sitting on the fence will leave you to tense, because you neither win nor lose!


Medicine Hat, Alberta Day #4

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Afternoon Races!  Some love it…………..and some don’t.  None the less, that is what they are here in Medicine Hat.

It was like living on a boat throughout the night, as the wind blew hard and was still blowing this morning and into the day.  The rain teased us a bit early on, but then cleared off and the sun came out by noon time.


Little Rose


A “Rose” between 2 thorns

As the morning was short before races, we stopped over at the neighbor Salmond Camp.  Evan and Adrienne, have their little 1 year old Rose.  What a cutie she is.  We enjoyed watching her just enjoying life down at her level.  Little Rose won’t be the little one for long, as Adrienne is expecting their second bundle of love in July after the Calgary Stampede.


All Smiles

We are very happy to have hard working Kim on our Team 23.  Kim is like Ricks shadow when it comes to all our horses.  She is a very good care taker of all of our equine athletes in general.  A huge part of looking after the horses is keeping them sound.  This means keeping care of their legs, wrap them if need be. This is Kim’s second season with us.

It takes a team to get to the races, and we are proud to have so many on “Team 23”.  And even though there are a few of us at the races, there are many at home helping out on the Ranch.  And we thank all of you for that.


Lightening Luke Tournier

When there are only 3 wagons to a heat, it gives some of the drivers a chance to come to the track to watch some of the races before its their turn.  Here Luke sits a top the fence with  a birds eye view.


Arena Director and Retired Veteran Driver Buddy Bensmiller

Buddy has now got one of the best jobs around.  As he had his share of chuckwagon racing for 40 plus years, he now gets to travel the roads and be the World Professional Chuckwagon Associations Arena Director.  The best part of this, is that his boy Kurt, and son in law Vern Nolin (Lisa Bensmiller) both competitors on the circuit, so he gets to cheer them on from the sidelines.  We are happy to have him doing his job, as when there are mishaps, as in yesterday, he knows exactly what to do and jumps right in to do it.


Bonnie, the longest and most faithful Chuckwagon Follower and Fan

Did you know, that you can listen to the races live on Sirius XM 147?  That’s right!  And it is good, because there are so many faithful followers that are not able to get out to the different venues to watch it live.  One of Rick Fraser and “Team 23” and Troy Dorchester’s most faithful, dedicated and  longest listening  fan is Bonnie of Wetaskiwin Alberta.  She never missses a race come Hell or High Water.  She subscribed to Sirius just for this.  As you can see, today, on Fathers day she was glued to the radio so she wouldn’t miss a thing.  Bonnie also has all, and I mean ALL the times written down from years ago when relatives Grampa Tommy Dorchester, Dallas Dorchester and Denny Dorchester were racing, and continues to write all the times down just for her reference.  And if I remember correctly, her mom did the same thing when she was alive.

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Today at the races was so much better than yesterday.  Here in Medicine Hat, we’ve had our fair share of issues.  But having said that, “Team 23” is learning and growing, and figuring things out for the Venues ahead.  I believe it will all come together in due time.

Tonight, Ricky hooked Air, Ranger, Keenan and Vegas.  Chanse held leaders with Stadium, and Cole thew the stove with Corn Whisky.  Well when that horn sounded, they were rockin!  They all dug in and Rick made a nice turn at the top of 2, coming around nicely to take off hard to get the rail from the competitor on 1.  And then they few around the track to set a time of 1:02.30 good for 11 on the day.  Cody did really good as well, posting a time of 1:02.57 just behind is dad for 12th on the day.  Rick and Cody ended up 27th and 32nd in the show respectively.  Onward and upward.

A congrats to Team Doug Irvine for winning the Championship final in today’s race, beating out Jason Glass and Kurt Bensmiller.



This little fella, was the last recipient of the Medicine Hat Chuckwagon Races to win our little mini giveaway.  Come on out this summer to any of our venues to have a chance to receive one of these keepsakes.


A Wagon Driver Fan

When you travel the road for 3 months of the year, you gotta have a little fun too.  My hubby has no shortage of that, when it comes to tricks and pranks.  Because we were seated in the 2nd heat today, we had some time to watch all the other races go around.  Being parked on the 3rd and 4rh turn, we had the best seats in the house.  Well, Rick had to make up a little sign for his competitor and friend, Chad Harden for all to see when the wagons ran on by.  I think he was noticed!

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S.  Life isn’t a matter of milestones.  But of moments.



Medicine Hat, Alberta Day #3

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Another week is coming to an end.  It is so hard to believe, its Saturday already.  I don’t even know what the date is.  When we get going down the road,  I lose all track of days.  This morning was beautiful out, and track times were from 9 am to noon.  We took advantage of this, and  hooked 2 sets of horses with the help of Cody and our crew.  All went well.  We have been hooking some newer horses, so some of them are in training.  This and chores used up all my morning.  Once I came in and cleaned up, I headed into town to pick up a few things.


Cole and Andy


Chanse and Stadium

Our two outriders for this show have been last years rookie of the year, Cole Somerville and veteran outrider and chuckwagon driver, Chanse Vigen.  They are both talented young fellas who love what they do.  Can you imagine,  riding a few heats, then jumping off your horse to go drive your own chuckwagon?  Well Chanse does this as well as does competitor Dustin Gorst.  They are both very talented young men.


Dustin headed to the track to ride


Reading Minds

Once all the afternoon chores are done, and all the preparation is complete for the evening races, one of my jobs is to bring the outriding horses to the infield.  I enjoy doing this.  I can ride them in if I wish (as I used to do this), but I choose to just walk them as it is even better exercise for me.


Sittin Tall


Diggin In


Perfect Form


Hunting the Track


Drivng the straight and narrow


First at the Finish Line

Cody made his mom and dad proud tonight.  He drove very well in his heat off the 1.  A very nice start, around the barrels, kept the rail and won his race.  He ended up 16th on the day and 25 in the aggregate.


A malfunction at the Junction


1 broken headstall

Rick didn’t fare so well tonight.  The practice turn was great!  It was what happened after that.  He drove into barrel 2.  Stopped.  Then the horses went ahead.  He, with the help of his outriders, pulled back to get even with the bottom barrel.  Success!  Then the horn blew.  The horses started and then some how a line got caught in the saddle horn of the outriding horses saddle, the lead team  immediately jackknife left,  which cause a ring to break on the bridle!!!  Not good.  But, Ricky being the skinnner that he is, managed to stay out of the other competitors way.   “He Done Good!”  Again, the hook was the same as last night.  Vegas, Ranger, Keenan, and Stash


Just like any other sport or venue,  things can happen.  When the dust settled, a whopping 25 second penalty was applied to our time.  With the redraw tomorrow, we are in the 2nd heat and Cody’s in the 3rd.



Even though Rick was unable to swing by the stands after the race, We managed to still give away a mini chuckwagon to one little tiny fan.


Very Assertive

Our horses are so in tuned as to what is going around them.  Here, I caught them watching the wagons roll by. Tonight, others had issues and penalties were assecced.  I wonder what was causing it all? Hmmmmmm.


A Beautiful Bright Full Moon

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S. Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.





Medicine Hat, Alberta Day #2

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends





Aren’t  the Medicine Hat skies spectacular?  I had decided last night, that I would wait to do the blog early this morning as we ventured over to fellow driver Chad Hardens barn for a sponsor get together.  Which in turn meant we were a bit late getting to bed.  I am so glad I made this decision, because when I got up, the skie was so beautiful.  And the neat part about that, was when we were finishing up putting the horses away last night, I couldn’t help but notice the evening sky as well.  I am glad to have captured both of these amazing breathtaking photographs.  It makes me appreciate the wonders of God’s creation.

My day yesterday was busy, but rather boring so to speak.  I prepared breakfast, then dove my nose into my office work.  On the road the bills still find me.  I do  the books for our company and Cody’s as well.  So it was time to play catch up.


Ethan preparing for the ride


A practice jump

Our youngest outrider on the tour, is Ethan Motowylo.  At the age of 15, he is doing a pretty good job.  His dad is Chuckwagon Driver Obrey Motowylo.  Ehtan rides for his dad as well may pick up another ride or two with another outfit along the tour.  Everyone starts somewhere, and you only get better by riding, racing and practicing.  This goes for anything we do in life’s journeys.


Obrey with son Ethan and Chad Cosgrave, the outriders

This year, is the year for new offspring in the Chuckwkagon Family.  There have been 3 babies born this spring, and another 3 due in the next month or two.  Driver Dustin Gorst is pretty excited for their little boy to arrive in a couple of weeks.


Jaycee Gorst still helping out

Friday night was a beautiful night for racing.  There were definitely not near as many penalties as the first night of races.  Only 4 infractions.  1 late outrider, and 3 knocked barrels.


Heading for the bottom barrel

Rick was off the 1st barrel last night.  For his 3rd  outfit, they turned and ran pretty good.  Rick was happy with it.  His hook was the same as the night before, with Air, Vegas, Stash, Ranger.  Then Cole and Chanse rode Andy and Stadium.  They posted a time of 102.91 good for 15th on the day.


Shoulder Checking

Cody fared pretty good.  Coming off the 3 barrel, its tough to get the rail.  You have to be pretty speedy to get ahead of the other 2 wagons.  Cody didn’t have quite enough room to do that, so he ended up going 3 wide all the way around this short track.  Him and his horses gave it a good shot though.  He eneded up with a time of 1:03.76 and 29th on the day.  Cody is sitting 30th overall.  He’s driving well though.


Coming down the homestretch


A Happy Recipient

We are so thrilled to put a smile on someones face with these little wagons.  The crowd here last night was good.  It’s great  to keep the fans coming, it keeps our Western Heritage Alive.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S. When you believe you can………………….you can!