A Little Boys Dream Come True

Howdy All!

It has been a very busy week since our arrival here in Grande Prairie, Alberta at Evergreen Park race track.  With only days left to prepare for our first night of Chuckwagon racing, a phone call had come, asking if Rick and I, and “Team 23” were available to have a young 10-year-old boy come and visit us at our barn for a tour of the ponies down on the grounds.  The date was set.

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A handsome boy named Hinton

Sunday morning arrived, and one very excited young boy arrived at 7 AM.

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Mom Robyn and Hinton

Mom Robyn tagged along too.  Horses are not new to Hinton, as his family has a few horses on the family farm.  This young lad also belongs to a local club, called  PARDS (Peace Area Riding for the Disabled). PARDS is a society that is committed to providing high quality Equine Assisted Therapy to  individuals.  It maximizes their growth and potential; physically cognitively, behavioraly and socially, through equine assisted programs and activities.   His heart lies near and dear to the majestic equine animal.

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A look down the shed row

Hinton also brought along his Riding mentor Nancy to join in his chuckwagon experience.

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One Special Hand Shake

The time arrived to meet the driver.  It was exciting for both of them.

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Hinton wanted to meet all the horses in the shed row.  And that he did.  We took him one by one, and introduced him to them all.   And then it was time to get to work.  We had to harness 4 horses and take them out for an exercise run.

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Adjusting the equipment

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Securing the headstall

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Adjusting the bit

“Team 23” got right to work, brushing and harnessing the four that needed to go.  While we were busy preparing for the run,  Hinton was quickly making friends with some of the other horses down the way.

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A Special Bond

It really is amazing, to step back and see the connection between a child and a horse.  The horse senses the openness, sincerity and gentleness of the little ones.

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We are one

This was so touching to watch Hinton go on his own to do this.  The communication is there, and no words are spoken.

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The time had come, and we decided that Hinton could ride out to the track with Rick in the Chuckwagon.  Hinton was elated!  He kept his emotions under control as he didn’t want to disturb the horses.

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Watching from the sidelines

Hinton had a front row view watching Rick come into the barrels for his practice run.

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And Away They Go!!!

The horn sounded, the horses jumped forward with a leap and a bounce, around the figure eight and away they went!

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Unharnessing the ponies

Back at the barn, the equipment comes off and into the pen they go to cool down, roll in the sand and quench their thirst with fresh cool water.

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One More Surprise Hinton

We weren’t done yet!!!  We had a few surprises for Hinton to send him on his way.

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Would this fit you?

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Biggest Smile Ever

A t-shirt, a poster, and a mini chuckwagon too.  The reaction of this little boy Hinton, touched our hearts more than you can imagine.  This particular morning, a little boy came into our lives and reminded us that life can be so simple.  We just need to stop and take the time to see, touch and take in, all that is around us and always look at the world through the eyes of a child.

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The Best Gift Ever

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Forever Friends

 

And at the end of the day, this all took place, because it was only a phone call away.

 

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue with Rick and “Team 23”

 

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Sue

P.S.  The law of LOVE could best be understood and learned through little children.

Ghandi

 

 

 

 

On The Road Again

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Just before we departed north to Grande Prairie, Alberta for our first stop on the World Professional Chuckwagon Tour, we had one last practice session which turned out to be such a beautiful day.  I was busy packing while the crew was outside doing their thing, when I heard that the neighbors had stopped by, bringing some relatives for a ride and to catch an insight on just what we do.

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All smiles enjoying a ride

Our grandson got right in there to help his Papa drive the team.  I wasn`t the only photographer taking photos.  My friend Karen brought out her Nikon and managed to get  few action shots too.

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Picture Perfect

There are always last-minute things to finish up with before we head on out.  One of them this year was applying some new special decals onto our liner that transports our horses.  Foss and Preston, from Signs and Graphics by Foss and Sons her in Wetaskiwin, came to the Ranch and did  great job aligning them in a straight line for all to see.

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One Decal at a Time

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A Skilled Profession

When the final decal had been applied, it was a very proud moment to observe.  The Dorchester heritage from Rick`s family in the chuckwagon world goes back many years.  Rick`s grandfather was the great Tom Dorchester.  He was quite the character.  Rick`s dad, Dave Lewis also drove chuckwagons and was a world champion.  He had married Rick`s mom, Joan Dorchester, (Tom and Joy`s daughter)  back in 1969.  Growing up in the Chuckwagon World, Rick had always had an interest in the lifestyle, first outriding, then switching to the driver’s seat.  Our son Cody, taught by his dad, has a very natural talent up in the box driving four horses and we could not be more proud of him and his accomplishments thus far.

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A Heritage to be Proud of

The day had finally arrived.  The pitch forks, feed, ponies and trailer were all packed and it was time to hit the road.  We like to get an early start on the day as the trip usually takes us  approximately 7 hours which includes a couple of stops to fuel up and also to give the horses  a rest from travelling.

We arrived onto the racing grounds at Evergreen Park situated just outside the city limits of Grande Prairie, sometime around 3 pm.  The trip was uneventful and the weather was great for traveling.  All the horses traveled very well in the fully air-conditioned unit and were happy to get out to run around and stretch their legs, as were we…….the crew of“Team 23“.

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A Panoramic View of the Barns

Grande Prairie is one of the most beautiful stops on our tour.  Evergreen Park here, is an amazing place with sand, surrounded by evergreens which protect us from the winds and plenty of room for all.  There are many shed rows of box-stalls  here, so several of the competitors utilize them while we are here.

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Once we got settled in, it was time to blow out the teams.  This means, after all the training and exercise to which we have done with the horses throughout April and May, it was time to go “Full throttle!“.  If you like speed,  it’s a thrill of a lifetime.  Our crew member, Duncan who is from Australia, was smiling ear to ear after the first run in the box.  He has never before experienced anything as exciting as this.  I think he`s hooked  and is sticking around for a bit.

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Birthday Girl

It doesn`t matter where you are, birthdays can be celebrated anywhere.  And our crew member Karina from out east, said good-bye to the “teens“ and welcomed in the “twenties“.   We surprised her with a cake and a bag of goodies too.  And I believe, each and every one of us like to be recognized when our birthday comes around, even if we don`t say so.   It just gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling inside to know someone cares.

 

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My first 5 km run with our friend Keith

Over the last few years, I`ve taken my health and fitness up a few notches.  As I have gotten older and now have  couple of awesome grandkids, I know I want to be here for them, to enjoy time with them for many years to come.  So, with this concept in mind, on my journey to a healthy  body,  I decided to train for a 5 km run which just happened to land on  Saturday May 27th while we are in Grande Prairie.  Our good friend Keith also signed up for the race, but had a bit tougher trail to tread.

 

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Winners All Around

Keith brought his little grandson, Caldron along with him.  As Caldron can`t even walk yet, Keith pushed him along in the stroller as he ran his race.  I think this is was pretty impressive.  It was a bit of a challenge but he made it work and he even came first in his category.  I am pretty proud of Keith and his acheivement.

 

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A Little Bit of Hardware

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I tend to think I did okay too, being my first 5 km race event ever.  There were 5 other female participants in my age category of 50 – 59.  I ran a 27:31.02 putting me in 1st place!  In all, there were 61 runners ranging in ages from 12 to 69 in the 5 km race, and that time then put me in 12th overall.  I set a goal 3 months ago just to compete in the race.  I met my goal and went beyond my expectations of myself.  Feels Great!  Now  I need to sit down and plan my next goal in life.

 

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Making Friends

Back home on the Ranch, a new little bundle of love arrived the day we departed.   Our daughter Amy`s mini, Tickety-Boo foaled a little filly of 20 lbs.  We missed meeting her by only a few hours.  She`s definatley alive and well and is a friendly little thing.  Coy never wasted any time getting to know her.

Only 2 more sleeps until the horn sounds for the first race of the 2017 World Professional Chuckwagon Associations first meet, up here at Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  If your unable to come join us live, you can listen on Sirius XM Rural Radio Channel 147 or on Country 99 FM Bonnyville  and 96.5 CKFM Olds.  Also, Rob Kerr on Sportsnet 960 The Fan, will be on every Tuesday for a WPCA Insider Report.  You will want to catch that to follow along with all the action of the 36 drivers of the WPCA.

 

 

From The Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23“

 

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Sue

P.S.  The HARDER you work for something, the GREATER you`ll feel when you acheive it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Week at a Time

Yes, its been one week at a time.  We are only 1 week from departing for our first Chuckwagon Venue up in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  Training has been good, with cooler weather than normal.  Some rain and not much wind to dry things up.  But, that has not stopped us from carrying on business as usual.

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Waiting for the Wagon to come in

The days are full with training and packing now.  Depending on the weather, we train either in the morning or the afternoon.  We always enjoy it when we have friends pop in to either lend a hand or just come to watch.

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Rick and Bruce 

Since we moved here to Wetaskiwin, back in 2007, our relative Bruce has helped us tremendously with the horses and taking care of the Ranch while away.  He has honestly been a pillar of strength to our Chuckwagon Team.  We appreciate all he has done and continues to do to help us out.  And I must also mention his sidekick, Bonnie, that also lends a hand where needed.  Every extra hand is a part of “Team 23”.

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Another Year Wiser

I tend to think birthdays are important.  We all have them so why not celebrate the big day.  And age to me, really doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just that we tend to be wiser as we get older.  I look back at the younger years, and chuckle at how we thought we knew everything.  Little did I know, there is always so much more to learn in life.  Every day is a new day of experience, knowledge and a life full of gratitude if we so believe it.   I enjoyed an evening of fellowship and supper at a Mexican Restaurant with my family and friends.  Such a treat not to have to cook.

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A New Life 

I have been enjoying “MY TIME” in the early AM running in preparation for my first 5KM run that will take place in Grande Prairie on the 27th of May.  Training is important.  I started back a couple of months ago, and I do see the progress.  I have shortened my time by minutes and I’m feeling really good.  Along one of my runs around the pasture, I happened upon a duck nest full of eggs.  My dog Nugget, scared her away.  I checked on the nest later in the day and into the next.  No mother duck had returned.  Amy, our animal lover daughter, gathered them up and has put them in the incubator in hopes that they will hatch.  I hope so too.  Time will tell.

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A Friendly Little Critter

I am excited to have received my new camera from Airmiles.  Its an upgrade from my other one which was over 15 years old.  My new Nikon D5500 couldn’t be without a zoom lens, so I treated myself for my birthday to a Tamaron SP 150-600mm.   I have had a little bit of time to go out and test it out around the Ranch.  I love to seek out the wildlife that frequents our property.  We have a few squirrels that love to come and munch on the sunflower seeds that I put out for the birds.

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I’m Looking at You

This yellow chested black bird sits and watches as we are going about our business.  I love the brightness of their bodies.  It tends to brighten ones day just a bit.  To have the freedom to fly would be a tremendous experience.

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Flying High

And yes, I guess as people we can fly, just in a different way than all the birds in the sky.  Rick and I have had the privilege to travel to many places over the years to wonderful destinations with  friends and family enjoying different cultures along the way.  We are very grateful to be able to do this over the years.

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Lazy Afternoon

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I Just Wanna Play Fetch

A Ranch is not a Ranch, without one or two cats and dogs.  The cats tend to rule the roost at times.  Toupee, our grandsons dog is the best little dog ever.  He is Coy’s constant companion who makes a little boy happy day in and day out.

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Proud Father

As the season draws near, the training continues.  This year, our son Cody has decided to step down from competition.  But that has not stopped him from coming out and giving us a helping hand with the training.  He is such a great hand and has the talent of a very good Chuckwagon Driver.  We are looking forward to him picking up the lines sometime in the future.

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“Howdy All!”

Yesterday we had  a special visitor come and join us.  Grandma Elsie was elated to come for a ride with Rick and the team.  This lady is an inspiration to us all.  She has a spring in her step and a love for life at 80’ish year young.  If we all could grow up to be like Grandma Elsie, life would be a joyous place to be.

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Watching On

Our daughter Kaylee, and grandson Ryker, made their way out yesterday to watch the action of training.  Ryker loves to see the horses and seems to have no fear of them.

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“TEAM 23”

It takes a team to make things work.  We here at “Team 23” pride ourselves to be the best that we can be to achieve great things.  Not only striving on winning and standing on a podium, but also to be the best we can be with the people around us that support us, and with the people we come in contact with on a daily basis.  With gratitude, we look forward to a very successful and fulfilling race season.

From Home on the Ranch

Sue, with Rick and Crew too

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”     Mattie J.T. Stepanek

Sue Fraser

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Sue 

 

 

 

Four Weeks and Counting

Howdy Friends

Yes, four weeks and counting until our first tour stop in Grande Prairie Alberta.  Many things for me to do before we hit the road.

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Rick & Wendel Clark

As the spring season brings the National Hockey Playoffs to the many fans across Canada and United States of America, so do many fans go to the Playoffs.  Well Cody and Rick were thrilled to be sent off to Toronto to see their team play.  It may have been just  a short trip, but there was no shortage of things to do in those few hours they were away.  Rick got to meet Toronto Maple Leaf legend Wendel Clark.

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TSN Radio Crew

Cody loves his hockey, and listens to TSN Podcasts throughout the season.  He got to meet and get a shot with the hosts of the show.

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5 AM Lineup

And I thought Rick was the most dedicated Toronoto Maple Leaf fan around.  These fellas top the charts!  They arrived at 5 AM to be at the front of the line for the evening game.  Now thats dedicated.    Even though the Toronto Franchise didn’t make it any further  than this round, it was a trip the guys will remember forever.

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Back home, the snow, the rain and the cold this spring has made for such terrible mud in the barn yard.  We had to remove the horses to higher ground and wait till the warmer weather appeared to dry things up in order to utilize the corrals.  But you know,  when obstacles arise, you always go above and beyond to conquer and go around them to keep on going.

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Going to Hook

And keep on going we did.  Throughout all the dumps of extra snow and moisture, we only had maybe 3 down days of training.  We just made sure we donned our rubber boots, warm coveralls and toques……and things were good.

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Snuggles

Nickle, our right leader is quite the horse,  he likes people, but yet likes to nip sometimes when we are hooking, so you have to pay attention.  And most of all he loves his rolled oats.

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When the horses are in training, so is the driver.  We hook the four horses to the rubber-tired chuckwagon and away they go around the track on the Ranch.   Rick is getting his strength worked up while driving the outfit.  Once in a while, he has a helper sit up on the seat and drive along with him.   There are four lines going to each horse, so when there are two guys driving, they each take a set of lines and drive the team together.  One drives the wheelers and the other drives the leaders.  This only takes place during training.

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The Tugs and the Singletree

Its been pretty hard to keep things clean this last while.  The tugs connected to the singletree have stayed fairly mud free, but we can’t say much for the singletree itself.  At the end of the day, its nothing a pressure washer can’t take care of.

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Well, the sun has come out and the land is beginning to dry.  We’ve even had a small amount of wind which will contribute to the drying as well.  The bugs are coming out from hibernation, and things are slowly beginning to bloom.  It’s very late this year, as at this same time last year, the apple trees had big beautiful blossoms on them.

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High In the Sky

Well the grand-kids can’t get enough of the Ranch and the outdoors to go with it.  So many trees to climb and forts to build.

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Baby Boss

As the smaller one has yet to walk,  it really doesn’t slow him down in getting around.

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Are you Anchored Down?

As a new season of springs is upon us, and the sky’s have turned blue, the warm weather temps are climbing, are you feeling weighted down?  Anchored down? or are you ready to soar the open air to new beginnings?  Whatever  or wherever it is you are in life, always remember that there’s no tomorrow, there’s only today.  So don’t wait to do the things you have always wanted to do.

From Home on the Ranch

Sue with Rick and Crew too

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Sue

P.S.  Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.     Henry Miller