Hoof’n it

Keely
Keely Dakin
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Published on September 04, 2012

Chariots and chuckwagons pulled by powerful little horses, sped around the track for four straight days this weekend. Above, a chuckwagon barrels past the finish line on Friday evening.

Published on September 04, 2012

Robby Ethier, drives the J L Enterprise chariot around the barrel in one of the final heats on Monday afternoon.

Published on September 04, 2012

The judges watch for mistakes, such as brushing against or knocking down the barrels.

Published on September 04, 2012

Everyone works to get a good seat of the action, from the tops of RVs to finding a perch on a fence post.

Published on September 04, 2012

Oscar Buck, of Shauvin, AB on his chariot on Monday afternoon. Buck has been racing for 17 years, leaving home with his wife and grandchildren in the spring and following the chariot and chuckwagon races across the prairies until early fall each year.

Published on September 04, 2012

Colton Mike pushes to get ahead of the other chariots on Sunday, the last day of the races.

Published on September 04, 2012

Emotions run high during the heats.

Published on September 04, 2012

A Chuckwagon kicks up dust in the evening heat, on Friday.

The 35th annual chuckwagon and chariot race thundered to a close this year with a clatter of hoofs and flyaway hats.

The Prince Albert Professional Chuckwagon and Chariot Association (PAPCCA) saw 52 chariots and 40 chuckwagons racing this weekend.

Roy McDougall helped to bring the event to Prince Albert all those years ago.

“I’ve been a part of it for 35 years,” McDougall says, who spent years as a racer first and is now as a judge.

The sport is growing, says McDougall, who has seen more people getting involved in recent years, especially young people.

This is a sport that breeds dedicated followers, evidenced by people such as Oscar Buck of Shauvin, Alberta.

Buck leaves his home in Alberta around the first week of May every year and follows the chuckwagon and chariot train around the provinces until they end around this time each year.

He’s been on the road and racing for 17 years, doing every race he could, except for when he was recovering from racing injuries.

“I got busted up a couple of times, but my team kept going.”

This year’s season was 64 days on the track.

This wasn’t a passion born in his boyhood. Instead, he took a dare.

“Well if you want to know the truth, a guy called me a chickenshit,” Buck says and laughs. “So I went and bought some horses.”

“The next year I was racing them.”

Buck has stayed in the game nearly two decades, because of the people he says.

“We don’t do it for the money,” Buck says, “It’s a family thing.”

“Well if you want to know the truth, a guy called me a chickenshit,” Buck says and laughs. “So I went and bought some horses.”

His own wife travels the trail with him, as well as his grandchildren.

The end of his racing days lies around the bend of the track, but not the end of the chuckwagon trail.

“I’m only going to run a couple more years,” he says. Then it will be time to follow his granddaughters on the road for a time as they embrace the barrel-racing track.

The Garnett Hewitt Memorial Award was presented for this year’s fastest times during the whole season. The Hewitt family presented the award at the end of the chariot and chuckwagon events.

Hewitt is widely respected in the PAPCCA for greatly expanding the event held in Prince Albert.

“We do the presentation every year,” says Florence Hewitt, Garnett’s widow.

Garnett’s passion for the sport resulted in a jump from just a couple of events annually to what is now a 12-day affair, in both spring and late summer.

“He was the instigator of getting the additional days,” said Florence.

Winners are as follows:

Garnett Hewitt Chariot Award went to driver Kevin Gareau in the wagon owned by Ben and Lee Gareau.

Garnett Hewitt Chuckwagon Award went Garth Sanderson.

Winner of this weekend’s race in Chariot was Colleen Galloway.

Winner of this weekend’s race in Chuckwagon was Ryan Peterson.

Organizations: Prince Albert Professional Chuckwagon and Chariot Association

Geographic location: Alberta

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