A Day In Rocky Montain House

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Its been nice to have a couple of very low-key days before the races begin on Thursday.  As we near the end of the season, we have sent home some horses, so we only have 15 head in the barn to care for.  Normally throughout the summer, we carry up to 23 horses.  This a huge difference in training and care taking time.



Last night we were treated to a wonderful dinner of Chinese Food back here at camp.  The best part was I didn’t have to cook.  Thanks to Mabel our sponsor from Henry’s Western Wear here in Rocky Mountain House for supplying our crew with this delicious meal.


We enjoyed our meal around the camp fire and a glass of wine to relax with afterwards.


The Local Bottle Depot

Bruce, our relative showed up this morning to camp with us for the weekend.  Bonnie, his wife didn’t make it as she has another venue to attend  elsewhere.  Rick, Bruce and I ventured into town for a few things in the afternoon.  We stopped in at the local bottle depot to drop of a few bags of recycles.  I just had to show the guys, because this is the neatest, tidiest and most efficient depot I have ever experienced.  They even have 2 machines that count the cans and bottles.  It’s very slick indeed.  Jill, the owner was on hand who I met last year, and she took us into the back to see how it works.  The guys were pretty impressed.  We continued on our way to Henry’s Western Wear, and the Grocery Store to pick up a few things for dinner.


Upon arriving back to camp, we found this bale of goodies on our door step.  A bale of shavings/bedding for the horses from the local Co-op store.  What a nice gesture that they do for all the drivers.  Every little bit helps, and we appreciate it so much.

Bruce loves to cook when camping, so he and I are partnering up to plan and prepare all the meals this week.  Tonight we did simple, making burgers, hot dogs and fries.  All done outside.  My trailer is staying clean.


Andy and Law

I had someone ask about our horse Law.  I decided it would be good to share a little bit about him.  Laws papered name is First Law.  We often give our new horses nick names.  We purchased him from a trainer from the track.   Law was born on April 10 2005, so he is 11 years old.  He is our best Right Wheeler.  He only drives on the right and no other position.  He has a very “hot personality”.  He is a quirky powerhouse, super serious and starts hard when the horn blows every time.  He loves his job.   Law is the first horse to ever win the Calgary Stampede Equine Award and the World Professional Equine award in the same year. We were proud when it was announced that he won the Calgary Stampede award again this year.  Law has a buddy named Andy, a outriding horse and they always have to be together in the pens and in the barn.  They are hard to tell apart as they are both bays and have little markings to tell which one is which.

Its looking like our weather here in Rocky is going to stay sunny and warm throughout.  Woulnd’t that be a nice way to end the season?

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S.  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.







Travel Day, From Dawson To Rocky

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Monday morning we arose very early.  I believe it was  6 AM Alberta time. We were all so tired.  I made a quick bite to eat and away we went, packing the rest of our belongings, folding up the barns and loading the horses.  Traveling days are very grueling as you spend 2 to 3 hours packing then anywhere from 3 to 8  hours on the road driving, along with another 2 to 3 hours setting up camp.

Today, I will take you through one of those days.  Our crew consists of Rick and I, and 2 hired helpers, Kim and Cole.   Throughout the summer it is us 4, and then sometimes along the way, family and friends may come to a show and  help us  out.

The horses are quite comfortable throughout the night each having their own tie stall, a bucket of fresh water, a bucket of oats with added supplements, a few flakes of nice green hay and a big fluffy bed of dry straw to lie on if they so choose.

Rick rises an hour earlier than the crew and feeds the morning tin of oats to all the horses.  We give them that much time to eat breakfast, then we take them out to their pens to run, stretch, roll and play.

We all work together, taking down the operation.  First all the dividers that separate the horses are carried up into the liner where we haul the horses.  We also bed the liner with straw, so that when the horses pee, it does not splatter them on their legs.

Once all the dividers are loaded, the buckets are taken down and put away under the belly of the liner.  Garden hoses, pitch forks, rakes, tools, feed and any other items that we use are neatly tucked away into their respective spot.  The night before, after the last race of the race meet, all the harness, saddles, bridles and tack are put away up front so we don’t have to do it on traveling day.  This shortens up our packing morning considerably.


Then it is time to fold up the hydraulic barn.  Now not every camp has one like this.  Some have roll down tarps on frames that work just the same, but only a  little more labor intensive.  That was what we started out with back in 1998, but thanks to one of our long time sponsors Kendal Pipeline, they  helped us upgrade to what we have today.  Rick runs the generator, while the crew closes the side walls in and removes the metal brace on the hydraulic. Once that is complete, the walls fold down in the middle, then close up to the liner wall.  We then have 5 ratchet straps on each side that we attach from top to bottom to hold the walls in tight for transport.

At all our venues, the manure during chore time is taken to a designated location on the grounds to keep things neat and tidy at all the camps.  Many have kubotas, buggy’s or use a tarp in the back of a pickup to haul it away.  As an added bonus, most committee’s allow us on pack up day to leave all the last days manure in a wind row or a pile, and their grounds crew will come by with the tractor to clean it up.  This is a great help to get us on the road just that much sooner.

After we double check that all belongings are packed and put away, the last thing to load are the horses.  We have 3 big fans that are blowing in the liner continuously throughout the journey, as well as side window vents for good air flow.  Each horse gets a hay net hung in front of them to keep them content for the haul.  As the horses are loaded, I roll up all the electric fence and posts and tuck them away for the next stop.



The end gate is closed and locked and we are ready to roll.

Unfortunately just as we loaded the last horse in Dawson Creek, I noticed we had a flat tire on the back of the liner.


Rick headed to the closest tire shop to have it repaired. Our convoy consists of 4 units.  Rick with the big truck and horse liner, Kim drives our pick-up pulling a trailer with Rick and Cody’s chuckwagons, Cole drives the Driving Force decaled truck pulling our home on wheels, The Traveling Trailer, and I drive a Freight-liner pulling  horse trailer with a few horses and the kubota.  This time around, Kim and I headed out  not wanting to wait, but yet looking forward to arriving  early in Rocky Mountain House to have the pens set up before Rick and the horses got there.  We normally all travel together just in case there are issues.  When one travels some 5000 kilometers in a 3 month stretch, there are always possible vehicle/tire problems.


Our drive to  Rocky Mountain House was 8 1/2 hours long.  We always have two 30 minute stops to allow the horses to rest and pee if need be as a horse cannot pee while  being hauled. Along the journey I noticed the plentiful crops of baled hay due to all the moisture across Alberta this year.  With the sight of this, the cost of hay should come down to where it ought to be after paying double to triple last season due to dryer conditions.


All Settled in Rocky Mountain House

Rick rolled into town around 6:30 PM and the set up started in reverse order as to packing up.  It was nice to have the pens ready and waiting for the horses so they didn’t have to wait any longer on the truck  after the long haul.  We completed the set up around 9:30 PM, put the horses in for the night and headed into town for a quick bite to eat.  Back at the trailer a refreshing shower felt good before bed.  Then it was lights out and our heads hit the pillow by 11:30 PM.

Thank you Prairie Kari for following my Chuckwagon journey and asking the question of how the operation works.  I trust you and all reading my blog have a better knowledge of how things work.  We often take this lifestyle for granted as it is just what we do.

From The Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S.  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.





Dawson Creek, AB Day #5

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

A week has gone by so fast here in Dawson Creek.  Today was our final race day at the Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede.  We had the best sunny weather here, of all the venues this summer.


Sue’s Famous Ham/Bacon “N” Egger

This morning, breakfast was served and the crew enjoyed my famous Chuckwagon breakfast, the ever loved Ham/Bacon “N” Egger.  You see, it is very easy to make, and is a very filling meal.  I use very fresh cheese buns from the grocery store. I choose either bacon or ham for the meat, 2 eggs per bun along with a slice of cheese, and viola…………..that’s it!  With a side of Costco hash browns and I’ve got the morning crew fed.  A family favorite.


A Young Fan and his Favorite Driver

Today, we had plenty of visitors, from fans, to friends, to a group of young riders.  It was good to sit and take the time to visit.


Dawson Creek Show Riders

This group of young guys and gals, performed before the rodeo each day.  Our friend Myrnie set them up to come and tour our barn, meet the horses and the driver.  There were many  questions asked and Rick and I were happy to share our life on the Chuckwagon trail.


A Stuie’s Diner Milkshake

Rick, Coy and I slipped out this afternoon to enjoy a delicious chocolate shake at the ever cool Stuie’s Diner.  We love this place, with its 1950  rockin tunes and the old style atmosphere.

Cody was seated into the 2nd heat off the three barrel tonight.  He had a decent run, but was added on a 1 second penalty for a late outrider.  He was 27th on the day.


A Day Money Run

With the redraw, we were seated into the 4th heat tonight and were posted on the 2 barrel.  We hooked Cowboy (LW) Glory (RW), Spirit LL) and Sin (RL). Stadium was ridden by Cole holding the leaders and Chanse Vigen threw the stove riding Ice.   The team started hard and ran a great race coming first in our heat.  We won an added $1000.00 cash bonus for that.  When the dust settled on the night, we won top spot for day money.  A great way to finish off the show.

Luke and Michelle Tournier won the championship title, with outriders, son Quaid, and Chance Flad.  Congratulations to them.

We will be up and at it early to make our journey south to the town of Rocky Mountain House.  Hope to see some of you there.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S. A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.




Dawson Creek, BC Day #4

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Saturday was already upon us.  The week has gone by fast here, as the weather has been lovely.  This morning, we had to scoot over to the local Co-op grocery store for a pancake breakfast Rick and a few other drivers were scheduled to make an appearance to sign posters and meet the folks in attendance. Throughout the summer, there are many venues attended in order to promote our heritage of Chuckwagon Racing,


Rick, Troy and Darcy


Telling Stories

While the guys did their thing, I sped into the store to pick a few groceries for the next few meals.  From the Co-op, we continued on over to the Pioneer Village on the west side of town.  We got a message that there was a young little girl, on a mission to fill a box of a truck with non perishable goods for the local food bank.


We thought it would be great to support her in this so we made a stop to do just that.  She was also excited to have a photo taken with Rick and we left her with a poster too.


Riding High

We captured this cute photo of the kids of the Kimble Famiy riding high above their beautiful black work horses heading to the parade yesterday,   What a great memory these kids will have in the years to come.


One little Chuckwagon Fan

Our doors are always open, and this little fan came by to say hello and meet Rick.  He has been a fan of Chuckwagon Racing since he can remember.  He came by to say hello and get a signed poster as well.

Chuckwagon racing has so many variables that forecast the drivers outcome at the end of the day.  Cody drove off the 4 barrel today.  The practice turn was perfect, but the actual race turn was not.  His right leader Spierman just wasn’t performing as he should coming around the bottom barrel.  Another crunched barrel.  This is when you have to take a step back, and assess what is going on.  How many times has this happened and is it time to move him on.  He is getting up in age so this may be the solution.  He’s been a very good horse over the years, starting his career in the Buddy Bensmiller camp.  Then we purchased him when Buddy retired.  When the season is over, we will have to make a decision.


Rick drove off the 3 barrel tonight.His hook was the same as the night before.  Cowboy (LW), Glory (RW), Spirit (LL) and Spin (RL).  Same riders, Cole holding the leaders on Stadium and Rory throwing the stove on Ice.  All went well with the race posting 12th on the day with a 1:15.56.  We are very appreciative of our sponsor here in Dawson Creek, Vold Jones Vold Auction Market.  It’s the sponsors that get us down the road.

So the dash on Sunday is set.  The top four outfits are Kirk Sutherland, Chad Harden, Codey McCurrach and Luke Tournier.  Good Luck to them all and may the fastest wagon win.


Peeking through the Hole


Well tomorrow is pack up day with travel day on Monday.  One more show to go down in the town of Rocky Mountain House.  Looking forward to the last show of the season.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S.  You must back up your ambition by your whole nature, by unbounded enthusiasm and a determination to win that knows no failure.



Dawson Creek, BC Day #3

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

A great day weather wise, and an even better day for a grand parade.  I arose with my finger still intact, although I must say I didn’t sleep very well.  Chores had to get done and we had to get going as Rick and I were in the parade with the decaled truck from our  sponsor Driving Force, as well as  pulling along our Chuckwagon behind on a trailer.



There were so many people who had come out to watch all the beautiful floats.  Its amazing how people come out when the sun shines bright.  Everybody is happy.

Coy came along with us too, and immediately spied one of his favorite super heroes, Spiderman.  So we had to take a picture.  So many excellent costumes.


Long Time Friends, Wendy and Dan

It is always good to come to Dawson, as we always run into people we know.  This time we met up with Dan and Wendy.  Wendy comes from my neck of  the woodsgrowing up, Grande Prairie AB.  What a nice surprise to see them and have a quick visit.


CoSponsor Cooper Brother Lodging

Cody had a much better run tonight off the three barrel.  He placed 14th on the day, with a 1:15.84.  Cooper Brothers Lodging is sponsoring Cody, and this is quite a unique match up.  You see the Coopers were  good friends to Cody’s late grandfather Dave Lewis.  They were excited to sponsor Dave’s grandson.


Turning the Top

Our Chuckwagom Team consisted of  Glory, Spin, Spirit, Cowboy, with  Rory and Cole riding Stadium and Ice.  Rick made a nice turn of the Top barrel, then glided them around the bottom to take the rail,  I was pretty excited, as I could see no penalties to speak of.  When the times were announced, we took second on the day with a time of 1:14.22. Chad Harden collected Day Money, and Chanse Vigen stole 3rd.

While waiting for our heat to run, along with the other 8 heats, I took time to take a few photos of whatever caught my eye.  I always enjoy  doing this and also love to share with you the reader.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S.  Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.  So if you’re feeling uncomfortable right now, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not and ending.