Bonnyville Chuckwagon Races Day#4

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, another stop on the tour has come to an end.  We awoke to rain clouds this morning.  It intermittently opened up with rain on and off throughout the morning.  Sometimes a light rain, other times, more of a down pour.  It finally quite, around 11AM. The races were early today, beginning at 2:15 PM.  So there were no time for naps before the races began.


From the Box Up Above


The Man Behind the Mike

Here in Bonnyville, for the four day show, the Chuckwagon Races were called by Professional Rodeo & World Pro Chuckwagon Announcer and Auctioneer, Mr. Gary Gross. Gary hails from the area of Ponoka, Alberta.  He is no stranger to the world of Chuckwagons as he has been announcing a few of the venues for several years now.  You will also recognize his voice announcing the pony wagons at the Ponoka Stampede, as well as many rodeos across Alberta and abroad.   Gary continues to use his strong voice to inform and familiarize  the crowd with all aspects of our sport as each heat goes by.  Look him up on his Facebook Page, Gary J. Gross (Team Double G).  Gary will return to the announce our last venue which will be in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.


Headed to the Races

Each and every night, there are 72 outriding horses that compete in one evening.  Those 72 horses are cared for by many people from each camp.  Some are brought over by the outriders, barn hands, family members and friends.


Double Duty

Each and every one is important and has a special job to do.  They also have such interesting personalities just as the people do.


A Friendly Hello

Here, Seairra a helping hand at our barn, reunites for a hello to a horse that now resides in the Motowylo camp.  You see, this horse was previously owned by Chuckwagon Driver Layne Bremner.  Layne packed it in after the Ponoka Stampede and had an auction sale of all his horses and equipment.  For personal reasons, he decided it was time to move on.  All of his horses were purchased by fellow competitors and were given a new home. The horse continues to do what he loves, race behind a Chuckwagon rig.


The Practice Turn

Todays hook was Bacardi on the Left Lead, Sporty on the Right.  Spin on the Left Wheel and Cowboy on the Right.  Dustin Gorst held leaders with Beau and Ethan Motowylo threw the stove with Andy again.  These two are really bonding.  Rick had a great start and made a nice turn coming onto the track to get the rail.  As the running was a bit heavier on the rail, our time was a bit slower.  We ended up clocking a 1:23.68 which put us into 20th spot and 15th in the show overall.  The horses ran very well throughout the venue.  If you take away the downed barrel 5 second penalty, we would have been 2nd in the show.  It is important to look at that when assessing how things went overall for our team.


Talking Through the Lines

Our lead man is Dustin Gorst.  We appreciate him stepping up to hold our leaders as he is also a Chuckwagon Driver too.  He is a very talented outrider that continues to ride for his Dad, Gary Gorst, his brother, Logan Gorst and us, Rick and “Team 23”.


Chuckwagon Driver/Outrider

And when the dust settles, he welcomes his little one into his arms and becomes a daddy again back at the barns.  Family is where it’s at in our circle of life on the Chuckwagon Circuit.


And a Daddy Too

On the way back to the barns, little Brit, Chuckwagon Driver Doug Irvine’s son, handles one of their outriding horses.  He loves the horses so much that he gets right in there to help out any way he can.


Following the Footsteps of Dad

Yes, he’s still a kid, but the passion for the way of life runs deep.  He will one day be riding around the track too, then up into the wagon box as well.

We are off to southern Alberta tomorrow to the town of Strathmore for their Stampede which begins on Friday.  They host a rodeo in the afternoon with all 36 Chuckwagon Drivers in the evening.

Until next time

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S.  Close some doors.  Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they no longer lead somewhere.



Bonnyville Chuckwagon Races Day#3

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends!

As the days go by, I still never seem to get enough rest in.  We continue to try and catch up on some each day, from the hectic pace of the Ponoka Stampede, the Calgary Stampede and the Wedding.  Today at noon, I started in on getting the GST done for month end.  After about 20 minutes in, I knew I had to sleep instead.  It was a very good nap.

Today was a very low key day.  There is only a small window of time to do extra things during the morning and afternoon chores.  With having to hook up 2 teams instead of 1, changes up our chore time.  We start earlier in the day to get ready for the evenings performance.


A Much Needed Bath

Washing horses is something we do before the races and after.  This photo was taken by my friend Lucy’s cousin, Curtis Cameron.  He was wandering around the grounds the last two days and took some very amazing shots.  He does have a Facebook Page called Curtis Cameron Photography.  Check it out as a person can also order to purchase from him.


Proud to Be Doing What He Loves

Another shot from Curtis, as Rick stands proudly near his Chuckwagon he built almost 20 years ago.  It hardly seems that long ago.  I love how he’s in his rubber boots!  This was the day after the big rain storm that flew in, and the mud was still around the barns.


Awaiting to Start

My new camera has some pretty neat settings.  I have been trying different things and today I used a special effects mode.  It sure gives the photo a bit of a different outlook.  Here the outriders are waiting for the races to begin.


Taking the Rail

Our hook in the first heat consisted of Louie, Ranger, Air and King.   They turned and ran alright placing a 23rd on the day.  Some of them are a bit newer and have to get some more runs in them for experience. Even though having two outfits to prepare to compete is plenty more work,  it is a great way for training.



Our main “Team 23” horses tonight were Jim on the Left Wheel, Law on the Right.  Speedy on the Right Lead and Nickle on the Left.  Dustin Gorst held the leaders with Stadium tonight and Ethan threw stove with Andy.


Full Bore Ahead

Just as Rick got his team set and was waiting for the others to move into position, the team jumped just a wee bit, stopped and then the horn blew and away they went.  Nickle ended up being a bit crosswise when the horn blew, but they straightened out and made a pretty fine run for 5th on the day.  With that good run, we jumped all the way up into 14 in the aggregate.  Pretty good I must say.


Andy and Ethan


A Pack of Outriders

I love to see the outriders and their mounts go racing by.  They all have a bond with each and every horse.  The outriders share information about the horses with each other, as different riders may have to mount different horses, for different Chuckwagon Drivers.


From a Birds Eye View

I’m the one usually behind the lens taking photos.  But this time our President Ed with the World Professional Chuckwagon Association managed to capture me getting ready to take a few photos of Rick when he came into the infield.

Oh, and just a reminder, tomorrow is an early race day with the races beginning at 2:15PM rather than an evening performance.

Until Tomorrow

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S. “Rest and self-care are so important.  When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow.  You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”  Eleanor Brownn



Bonnyville Chuckwagon Races Day#2

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

What a storm that blew in last night here in Bonnyville.  It rolled in around 11 or so, and it came with a vengeance.  The wind brought in hail and rain.  When you live in a travel trailer for 3 months of the summer months, the sound of the hail pounding on the roof top can be a bit deafening at times.  And there’s not much you can do but hope for the best outcome with no broken lids up top.  Thankfully our were all okay.

We woke up to muddy pens and a bit cooler temperatures, enough to warrant a sweater.  The horses were in their element as they all wanted to roll in the mud.  The Chad Harden camp next door were all on guard, preventing them from doing so.  If they did, it just meant more time washing and bathing our big equine animals.


It wasn’t long before the sun began to warm things up and a nice breeze began to blow.  And that was just what we needed to dry up all the land around the grounds and the race track as well.

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Today, all the ladies of the Chuckwagon Family, were treated to their own special Ladies Day Spa, put on by many local businesses.  They donated their time, services and products to spoil all of us rotten.  And boy, we sure do enjoy and appreciate it.  From tarot card readings, to a foot bathing spa.  To hair cuts, massages and games.  A silent auction to which we helped raise $350 to go towards the Rednecks With A Cause.  A group of folks up here in the north raising awareness for Autism.  They also in turn support the Chuckwagon racing at the same time.  The light lunch was just what was in order.  And we can’t for get the mimosa!  A huge shout out goes to all the organizers and the major sponsor, Ross & Sylvestre LLP Chartered Accountants.  Kudos to you all!!!


Chad Harden Leaders

Our second outfit, hooked in the 1st heat on barrel four, consisted of 5 horses of Chad Hardens on the wagon, one of his outriding horses and 1 of ours.  Rick is a pretty good skinner, and was able to drive the team that he doesn’t know.  He got them around the barrel just fine and ended up 29th on the day.  The track is quite heavy so the times have been slower.


Hunting the Track


Headed for Home

It is always a crowd pleaser when the Chuckwagons are coming to the finish line full throttle four a breast.  It may have not happened in this heat, but it was good watching just the same.  The crowd goes wild cheering on their favorite team.


The Job of and Outrider

Tonight our main outfit was set for the 3 barrel.  We hooked Jim on the Left Wheel, Law on the Right.  Nickel on the Left Lead and Speedy on the Right.  Dustin Gorst  held leaders with Stadium and Ethan Motowylo threw stove with Andy.  He is really liking this horse.  It is very important to have really good trained outriding horses.  It can make or break you for a championship show sometimes.  All the outriders have to be in good physical shape to run and mount the horses after the horn blows.  It may look easy to some, but it takes lots of physical strength and stamina.  There have been many great outriders over the years.


Oh Boy!

Nobody likes to talk about those moving barrels.  Tonight rounding the top, the back wheel crunched the barrel.  An added five seconds to our time.  Not what any driver wishes to happen.  We were still able to finish first in our heat, but put us in 31st spot.  Oh well it is what it is.


Special Moments

Today, during the horses time of relaxing in the warm sun, Coy went out into the pen to say hello to his special horse Sporty.  He loves to give him some lovin now and then.  He’s got a very soft heart.  And did you notice his special footwear attire?  Oh how I love kids and how cute and innocent they really are.  They really do make the busyness and problems of life just be put to the back burner for just a little while.


An Afternoon Ride

These two boys from the Irvine Camp enjoyed some riding around the grounds today.  A great way to spend an afternoon.


A Future Wagon Driver

I got this shot in the distance of a young fella from the Logan Gorst camp.  He was right into bouncing on the seat and pretending to driving  the lines.  This kind of shot is very frequent around the grounds throughout the summer.

Until Tomorrow

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S.  Fill you life with adventures, not things.  Have stories to tell not stuff to show.

Bonnyville Chuckwagon Races Day #1

Howdy All!

Well, I’m back in the saddle again!  So to speak.  I took a bit of time off from writing as my days never got any less busier.  The Calgary Stampede was a whirl wind as always.  When we returned home to the Ranch just outside of Wetaskiwin, Alberta after the 10 days of straight racing, it was time to shift to wedding mode.  That’s right!  Our eldest daughter Amy got married on Friday July 21st.  The family was pretty excited preparing in the days leading up to the big day.


The Beautiful Bride

We had many family, friends and neighbors join us in celebrating the beautiful ceremony of Amy and Chris.


United with a Kiss

The day couldn’t have turned out any better.  The skies were overcast with a light mist falling down.  They say those conditions are  much better for the photography setting.  Our grandson Coy, was as proud as could be seeing his lovely mom marry his new stepdad Chris.


Handsome Lad

The festivities went on throughout the weekend.  Why not stretch it out and enjoy.  And that’s just what we did.  We had so much fun, and very little sleep.


The Happy Couple

I think this was the part where Chris got to have the upper hand, as his groomsmen relayed to him in their speech.  He needed to enjoy it, as it may be the only time from then on in the days to come.

Well they say all good things come to an end, but it doesn’t mean we have to quite living.  It was time to hit the chuckwagon trail once again.  Don’t get me wrong, we do have a lot of fun down the dusty o’l road, it’s just a different kind of fun.  Bonnyville bound is where we were headed.  We had full intentions of arriving here on Monday, but we heard the rains were coming down hard for two days straight.  We held off our travel till Wednesday when the skies had cleared up and the sun came out to dry up the land just a little bit.



We are going to be just a tad bit busier these next 4 tour stops, as Rick, along with Chad Harden decided it was a good idea to put together another chuckwagon outfit to fill one of the two vacant spots where drivers have retired.  (Layne Bremner and Colt Cosgrave) Between the two of them and maybe a couple other drivers, they will put together a team and two outriding horses from now until the end of the season.  This outfit is seated in the first heat.  Rick ran a 22nd on the day with the bunch tonight.

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Our hook tonight on the main outfit  was Bacardi on the Left Lead, Sporty on the Right.  Spin on the Left Wheel, and Cowboy on the Right.  Our outriders were Dustin Gorst holding leaders with Beau and Ethan Motowylo throwing the stove with Andy.  Coming off the 2 barrel, he had a great turn onto the track.  He told me he felt how powerful Cowboy was tonight.  The track was heavier than usual, and I think he runs well in conditions such as this.  At any rate, Rick and his team, surpassed his competitors to finish first in his heat and 6th on the day.  “Team 23” was pretty happy with that.


Love Coy

The best thing about the race, was coming back to the barn to this little gem of a note from grandson Coy.  He had watched Papa’s race from the backstretch.  He cheered loud and clear.  “Papa you are the bestest wagon driver I know out there.  I Love you with all of my heart.  XOXO.  Number Team 23 is the best.”  Kids are the best!




……………so much fun!

And speaking about kids, wouldn’t you love to be a chuckwagon kid?  Tonight, after the races, a bunch of them found these straw bales and the fun began.  They must have played there for an hour or more.  No care in the world.  Our kids were brought up in this lifestyle, and there are many more to come.  They are great kids, with good manners, and all families look out for the little ones.  It couldn’t get any better than that.


All Smiles

Our young little winner of the mini chuckwagon give away came to meet us after the races.  She was one proud gal with her new shiny gift.

The heat today in Bonnyville was very, very warm.  I’m lovin it.  The forecast was to be sunny from here on out till we depart.  But as I finish up this letter, the rain drops are falling.  A mini hail storm came through, and the moisture continues.  Hopefully for not much longer.

Until Tomorrow

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S.  Life is not always perfect, but it’s always what you make it.  So make it count, make it memorable, and never let anyone steal your happiness.


Calgary Stampede 2017 Day #10

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends!

WOW!  Day #10 of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth in Calgary Alberta has arrived and is completed.  The days have really gone by so quickly for us.  When one’s schedule is so regimented, and you just know you have to keep getting up early, and staying up late, day in and out, time passes us by.  Yet having said that, we have met many new Chuckwagon fans, friends and potential sponsors for the future.


Happy to Be Here


A Boy and His Dog

I was pretty happy when my seven-year old Grandson arrived on the grounds.  Coy was too.  We hadn’t been together for a few weeks now.  He brightens our days and just loves life to the fullest and is a gentle caring soul.


Oh My!

As Sunday was our last breakfast together with the Dorchester crew next door,  and pack up time was happening, I thought I would be ahead of the game preparing a dish the day before, called Christmas Morning Wifesaver.  A delicious meal with everything layered all in one.  Your bread, ham, bacon, cheese with another layer of bread, topped with a mix of eggs, milk onion, green peppers and spices baked for an hour in the oven.  Quick and easy.  Along with that we fired up the grill to cook some hash browns to go with.  You know when 10 days of Stampede are here, and you think your losing it.   When I was attempting to light the grill this morning, I was turning the leg height adjustment knob instead of the burner dial!  Oh my gosh!!!  No wonder it wouldn’t light.  And it didn’t go unnoticed by the crew either.  We all had a good laugh.  TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROADS!


Barrel Racer Amber Moore and Rick

Normally, we are so busy we don’t get to see any of the Rodeo, yet once in a while we meet some of their competitors as we share the same barn.  Rick and daughter Kaylee met professional barrel racer Amber Moore from Keizer Oregon.  They got to talking about each others racing profession.  One thing led to another, and Amber was going for an early morning ride.  She was thrilled to pieces to be able to experience this.


Headed to the Track


After the Run

Amber likes to be fast with her barrel horse, so going full-out with 4 amazingly fit  thoroughbreds pulling a Chuckwagon around the track at around 60 km an hour speed was an experience of a lifetime.  Amber made it to the Rodeo Sunday Showdown here in Calgary and we wish her well.

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Chores! Chores! Chores! Our days are consumed with chores.  But with a great team day in and day out, they all get done efficiently.




Eddie Melville

This Calgary Stampede marked some very momentous moments.  Outrider Eddie Melville is hanging up his riding shoes for the last time tonight.  Eddie is the grandson to the late Orville Strandquist, Chuckwagon Driver and excellent outrider back in the day.  The Calgary Stampede recognized and honoured Eddie tonight with a bronze trophy.  Eddie was also knownn for  organizing the prestigious Equine Award on the World Professional Chuckwagon Association as well as at the Calgary Stampede.  Because of Eddies love of the sport, I’m pretty sure he will still be involved to some capacity one way or another.


The other person recognized yesterday and today, was Kelly Sutherland for all the 50 years that he has been driving and competing as a Chuckwagon driver.   He’s hangin up the lines after 50 long years going down the  trail.  The outriders came out to shake his hand during his post parade after his last race at the Calgary Stampede.  Competitors are not allowed to race after the age of 65.  He won plenty of races during his span of fifty years.  I’m thinking he’s ready to sit back and enjoy all his grandkids and great grandkids.  And so he should.

Tonight Rick was slated to run in the 7th heat and on barrel two. He hooked Spirit on the Left Lead, Sporty on the Right Lead, Jim on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right.  Our outriders were David Bensmiller holding the leaders and Eathen Motowylo throwing the stove.  When the horn sounded away they all went.  The team started hard and charged to the race, along fellow competitor Mike Vigen.



The race was a good one, and on the back stretch,  Rick and Mike Vigen were racing along chatting about something.  Rick always likes to make small conversation.


As the day is done, so am I.  Tomorrow we will head north to our ranch, unload the horses, laundry and food,  and then relax and get some much-needed sleep.  As a matter of fact, I better get to bed now as I’m dozing off at my computer.



Until Next Tomorrow

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S. BE CONFIDENT!  To many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t.  Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are – and aren’t – that you will truly succeed.