Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 2 (August 21)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Through the night, the wind blew and the rains came down. We woke up this morning and it was still raining. Maybe not as hard but it was still raining. It wasn’t looking very promising for an evening race day. But the weather man said it was going to quit later in the day, which it did, but it was still overcast and cold throughout the rest of the day.

Very Muddy Infield

Very muddy infield

The track had been eyed up as very muddy but still race worthy. The races were to carry on.

A Wee Fireman for the Day

A wee fireman for the day

Waiting for the races to begin, I eyed this little guy just below where we were sitting. He got to spend some time with a local firefighter today. His orange lips and tongue gave away the orange pop that he was drinking.


Getting ready to hold leaders

Rick did such a great job last night that Cody would have him hold the leaders again tonight. Not sure what he’s getting paid but it sure must be good.



rolling along

Rolling along


Clean…but not for long!

Coming into the practice turn, we could all see the design on the wagon and the sponsor’s name on the tarp. It wouldn’t be that way for long, with the soupy mess in the infield and on the track. Things were looking good, though, as the base was great for the footing of the horses.

And He's Off!

And he’s off!

Coming around the Top

Coming around the top

Then the Bottom!

Then the bottom!

Once the horn sounded and the horses heard Rick’s distinctive whistle, the equine crew on the wagon knew it was time to start. Cody the skinner made a perfect turn on the top and bottom barrel. Tonight he was driving Spirit, Ranger, Vegas and Zorba.

First turn pace

First turn pace

Backstretch Booging

Backstretch boogying

Muddy race for the finish line

Muddy race for the finish line

I couldn’t be much prouder as a mom how Cody’s race panned out. When the race times were posted, he was first on the day and first in the average. Excellent!

Sitting Tall in the Box

Sitting tall in the box

I’m not sure who’s doing the laundry but I do know that the pressure washer will come in very handy tonight.

A birds eye view

A bird’s eye view

Once Cody unhooked the ponies and put them into their pens to cool down, it was up to the top of the liner to watch the rest of the heats’ performances.

Ed Wittchen our WPCA President and photographer

Ed capturing some magic moments

Throughout the season, Ed, our WPCA president, has been taking great shots of all the action of the races and events within our circuit. He’s one busy man, posting many of the photos on Facebook and writing up the association’s newsletter once a month. He does a great job getting this all written up for the enjoyment of our chuckwagon fans.

Serene Sunset

Serene sunset

Back at camp, with the fire a-blazing and cup of hot coffee and Baileys in our hands, we all enjoyed the awesome sunset in the western Alberta sky.

Never give up. Keep your thoughts and your mind always on the goal.

Battle of the Rockies: Day 5 (August 16)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, I never forgot you, I just plain didn’t do my blog yesterday. Races were early in the day at 2pm. Finishing up by 5-ish. We headed to the Broken Spoke Saloon for a delicious supper put on by the Rocky Committee, got back to the trailer about 7:30pm. Then my bed was calling me. Thought I would lie down for a few minutes. Turned out to be until the next morning! So sorry!!!


A very muddy chapeau

Doing a delivery

Doing a delivery

The Crew and all the Rocky fans woke up to a very cold morning. So much so you could see our breath, had our warm coats on and lit the campfire to keep warm.


Get ready, get set…



Despite the rain and mud on Saturday and the cold weather on Sunday morning, the afternoon races turned out to be pretty good. The sun came out to shine on all the competitors.




Rick’s last hook of the year was Spirit, Ranger, Speedy and Vegas, with outriders Cole and Rory finishing up with Mover and Mandalay. The start and charge was great. The top barrel turn was as close as you would want it without knocking it over. Ricky spun it. It weebled and wobbled but it didn’t fall down. Thank the Lord!!!


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The finish was a crowd-pleaser as the 2015 world champion Kurt Bensmiller came charging hard at the finish. Only 6 one-hundredths behind Rick. We were really hoping to claim a day money but again came up a bit short as Doug Irvine, the new Rocky champion, snuck in ahead of us. Congratulations to Doug, Jimmy Lou and crew on a show well done.


Giving away the last mini chuckwagon of the season to an excited little fan


A happy dance parade


Final cheers on the way out


Taking a look at the top barrel tracks


After the dust settled, we took a second on the day. We were happy. The world standings put us in fourth overall for this season. Come next spring in Grande Prairie, we will be back in heat 9 with Kurt, Kirk and Obrey.

Once the races were completed, the kids performed for the crowd in the wild pony race. This little gal, at the ripe age of six, was the little roundup gal on her pretty pony. She sure was a cutie out there, doing her job.

The little round up gal

The little roundup gal

Chasing the minis

Chasing the minis

Before heading out to go home, we surprised Anna, our friend Paul’s granddaughter, with her very own horse. Was she surprised.

Anna and her new horse Bingo

Anna and her new horse Bingo

HUGS! To a new best friend

HUGS! To a new best friend

You see, Bingo was a wagon horse and an outriding horse. He has done us very well over the years. And there always comes a time when these special horses have to be retired. We gifted Bingo out to Anna and we know he will have a loving home for years to come. This is not the first horse that we have found a home for. There are many others out there enjoying a restful life out in the pasture. They deserve it.

Team 23 and all the ponies arrived home safe and sound early afternoon today. It was a good feeling to be here. I love to walk around in the yard and see how things have grown. Despite the dry weather, I have apples on my tree.

Glad to be home

Glad to be home

We will only be home for a few days, then we are heading down south just a short bit away to the WPCA Qualification Run Off in Bashaw. Our son Cody will be competing along with 12 other drivers. He is hoping to be one of the top six to join up on the tour in 2016.

I will keep you informed as to the outcome of the races down there.

Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t turn out, just take another shot.

Calgary Stampede Wrap-up

I promised to write a final full wrap-up of Stampede. It was just way too late when we got in from congratulating the new 2015 winners and enjoying the company of Team 23’s Stampede participation. Monday was out of the question, as it was a packing, traveling and sleep day. Now that we are home and it’s Tuesday, I found a few minutes to write.

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So we celebrated our youngest child’s birthday. Cody turned 24 on Sunday. WOW!!! I will forever remember the day he was born, as he came a month premature. Cody was born only a few days after Grandpa Tommy Dorchester’s passing. He’s become a gentle giant at 6’5. He is just a bit big to sit on our knees anymore but we love to have him around just the same. He’s been a huge help in the box training horses with Rick. He’s going to be a great driver himself one day.

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Being at the Calgary Stampede, we always have folks drop by that we rarely see. Kim Nevada swung by for a hug and photo with Ricky. She’s beautiful inside and out and hasn’t changed a bit over the years. Her husband Jimmy used to outride with Rick and also drove a chuckwagon too. Another family, Alden and Natasha Harms, stopped by. What a surprise. Alden went to school with our kids but is just a few years older. My, how the years go by. Great to see them and their family.

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Rick’s looking for a new job in the fall so he thought he would try his hand at filming. Not sure how that went for him. There was no job offer after. He’ll keep looking.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

We were very excited with our hook on Day 10 of the Stampede. Rick had Spirit on the Left Lead, Ranger on the Right Lead, Law on the Left Wheel and Keenan on the Right Wheel. Our outriders were Cole on Leaders riding Bingo and Rory throwing stove with Trixter.

Coming into barrel 1, I was nervous if they would stand with Keenan being a new horse and this would be his second race. They didn’t have to wait long and the horn blew. Off they went, Rick did a great job turning the figure 8 and they were gone! What a superb race, almost clinching a day money run, but we came in second on the day. We’ll take that! We were first in our heat by quite a bit. What a great way to finish off the Stampede and even better in front of our sponsors, Northwell Oilfield Hauling. A huge thank you to them for all their support. We couldn’t do it without them.

Rick and I and Team 23 made an emergency exit out of the Stampede grounds on Monday morning.

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We’re going incognito for a week to curl up and sleep some hours away during our few days off before we head to Bonnyville.

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In between my naps, I am tending to the laundry and the garden. It’s pretty dry here so not many weeds and the grass is rather brown.

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I must say, all in all, we enjoyed our 2015 Stampede. Team 23 was exceptional with all their work with the horses and all the barn chores. Couldn’t ask for anything better than that. This chick’s happy. Thanks to all of you for following along. Bonnyville is our next tour stop, beginning Thursday, July 23. I may blog a time or two before the show starts. Until then, howdy ho!

Someday everything will make sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.

Calgary: Night Ten (July 12)

This is going to be short and sweet as we are headed home tomorrow, and it’s 1:33am and I have to get up tomorrow at 7am just in time to pack the rest of our belongings.

Congratulations to Kurt and Ashley Bensmiller on winning the $100,000 dash for cash for the second year in a row. Every chuckwagon driver’s dream.

Cody, our son, had his 24th birthday today so we enjoyed some cake along with our supper and we even sang.

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Rick and I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Northwell Oilfield Hauling and to his crews. It takes many.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

I will write again in a day or two. Looking forward to my bed at home.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own.

Calgary: Night Five (July 7)

Tuesday already. That means we are at the halfway point of the Calgary Stampede. The days go by very fast when we are here as it is such an important and busy show.

The air was pretty chilly this morning. I didn’t take a coat down when I headed to the barns but I could have used one. Once we got busy doing chores, I had warmed up.

It was laundry day for me today. Rick’s treat while here is dropping off his jeans and shirts with Cochrane’s Dry Cleaning By Dave. They come every day to the grounds from 10am until 1pm for drop-off service. Many cowboys utilize this service so they all look neat and tidy with their starched jeans and shirts.

I like it too as it lessens my load tremendously. We’re also fortunate to have a few machines donated for our use in the barns.

Once I got that all taken care of, Kaylee, Gary and I went to the Big Four to the lost and found. You see Kaylee lost her wedding band yesterday. So we wanted to report it. We’re hoping that it will be located by someone before we leave the grounds.

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Out back at our barn we had some visitors that really paid us no attention. These ducks were just looking for some leftover oats to eat.

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What a cute couple. I remember years ago Rick and I were discussing ducks, and I was clearly disappointed when Rick filled me in that the female duck was the dull one and pretty one was the male. He’s never let me forget it.

We have many fans abroad, and here we have Rick’s Aunty KooKoo (Sharon) with cousin Tammy and her daughter Sadie. Lots of our relatives love to get together at the cabin or their home, sit around the campfire and make bets on the races.

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For the night’s races, my job (along with a couple of the girls) is to take the outriding horses over to the infield and tend to them. I have a tough time getting on the horse myself, so there’s always one of the guys to give me a boost up.

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Tonight we brought over a beverage to celebrate our halfway point of the Stampede.

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There’s no shortage of love for our horses in our barn. They all get number one lovin’! Ace loves to have his lip rubbed and Jesse has no trouble doing that.

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Because of the redraw tonight, we got hooked with different drivers. So in turn we lost an outrider and had to hire a different one. Dustin was riding, but he had to go ride for his dad, Gary Gorst, as we were in the same heat. But not to worry as we picked up 2014 world champion outrider Chance Flad.

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Rick decided to hook Spirit on the Left Lead, Ranger on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Beau again and Chance rode Stadium. They did a great job.

Rick was on 1 barrel. When he came in to park, he said he heard someone whistle and the horses jumped ahead of the barrel. Rick tried to back them up, somewhat successfully but we were still assessed a one-second penalty. The horn finally blew and away they went.

Unfortunate luck struck and the top barrel was hit, assessing us another five seconds. That one hurts. This takes us out of the running for the top eight so we will just be running for day money now.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick is a great skinner, and I’m proud of him and he’s done well thus far. We were also happy tonight how fast the horses ran. Tomorrow is another day and we will shoot to get a day money.

One of the happiest moments ever is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.