The hidden years in Canada 59, the chuckwagon races

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Sunday 14 June 22:40

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Chuckwagon races

The Chuckwagon race would take some time before starting and we strolled around the grounds and stopped here and there, looking about. ‘Ok Folks,’ the voice sounded from the speakers,’ the barrel racing is about to begin.’ ‘What am I to expect from that,’ Don asked. ‘A barrel race, how? Do you need to stand with your horse on a barrel or something? ‘ ‘Well no,’ Bev said, ‘it's a women's sports. Barrels are put down in a particular figure and you  take turns going past the barrels making clover leaves. All lengthwise , so you gallop to the farthest barrel, ride around there and then the second drum and you've done a four-leaf clover by the time you reach the fourth barrel. Then you go long ways back and an electric eye measures your speed. ‘ 'That does not sound spectacular, ‘I said. ‘Ah,’ said Bev, ‘it's not as easy as it looks and it gives cowgirls a chance to join the stampede.’

We walked up to it and after a few participants we all had to admit it was extremely boring. We squeezed our way back through the crowd to the grounds and had something  to eat and drink. ‘About half an hour, we ought to get going to the wagon track,’ I suggested, ‘I want good places, which oversees the whole process a bit.’

‘It's just amazing that the chuckwagon races are still allowed to take place,’ Richard said, ‘there were deaths in recent years and the necessary horses so  badly injured that they had to be put down.’ ‘No,’ said Don, ‘that will not happen, it is now naturally frowned upon because of the dead, but the real origin of the Stampede in Calgary dates back to 1920 or so. It had to do with a cowboy barbecue, with the necessary meat and whiskey and at the end of the meal they decided to race home for Calgary. ‘

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‘That explains a lot,’ said Bev, reading the program. ‘It says here that the men, that participate sit at the start around a fire, there must always be a barbecue and a tent present. At the start, participants have to throw the tent poles and the barbeque in the back of the wagon, and run the horses twice a around the camping ground to create some momentum before they enter the track to race off.

They do three heats and going full speed. You get penalty points for not loading the barbecue or tent poles. You get negative points as well for hitting or driving into other wagons. ‘The fastest wins, I suppose asked Richard?’ ‘No,’ said Bev, 'three times around the track, then you get quickly with your team and wagon to the camp, you must put up your tent poles, start the barbecue oven and place it next to a fire. The first one who pulls smoke wins. ‘ We saundered  to the grand stand, the stand that stood at the main course but to our dismay it was already pretty full, although we still found a place with good views.

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The Cowboys had now arrived and sat with their horses within reach seemingly relaxed beside a fire with adrenaline probably rushing through their body and they were on sharp.'Goh, as so many accidents happen, then I wonder why they still do it, ‘ Richard said? ‘Glory for the Ranch,’ said Don, ‘and the prize money.’ ‘Well, would you risk your life for a few pennies,’ Richard said. ‘The prize money for this year,’ read Bev for, ‘the overall winner after 10 days of Chuckwagon races is 1 million and 100 thousand dollars.’ We fell silent. 'Bloody hell,' Richard stammered, ‘that is serious money. What do you have to be to participate? ‘ ‘Represent your ranch,’ said Bev. ‘Someone wins every year,’ I said, the amount was almost to big to contain. ‘Oh yes,’ said Bev, ‘duty free.’

San Daniel 2015

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