Chuckwagon World Finals come to Rocky Mountain House

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John Devitt
Over five days in August the World Professional Chuckwagon Association will hold its World Finals in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.  Starting Wednesday, August 15th and running straight through to Sunday, August 19th, 2012, for a newly added fifth day, the ‘Battle of the Rockies’ will certainly be a mad dash to the finish for competitors from around the world.
“It is a really exciting sport and amazing to watch the horsemanship of the drivers and riders,” said Lynn Cadrain, a member of the Board of Directors.  Lynn has been volunteering her time since the events inception three years ago.  “My husband and I are both avid horsemen and we personally know several of the drivers, but it’s the atmosphere that keeps us coming back year after year.”
Horsemenship is an important aspect at the Battle of the Rockies, where professional drivers expertly command their team of horses.
Chuckwagon racing is a team event led by a driver who commands the team of horses that pulls the Chuckwagon while two to four outriders follow the chuckwagon and support the driver.  There will be 9 heats, each with 4 teams, and the driver with the most points on Saturday night will be declared the World Champion Chuckwagon Driver, but first they must beat out 35 of the best chuckwagon drivers in the world over 5 days of competition.
Horsemanship is a key component of these races.  Drivers and riders bring an incredible level of athleticism and love to the sport.  A typical race involves the outriders ‘breaking camp’ by tossing tent poles and a barrel representative of a camp stove into the back of the wagon.  The outriders then mount their horses and follow their teams wagon in a figure eight around two more barrels before completing a circuit of the race track.  The first wagon to cross the finish line is typically the winner, however time penalties are handed out if a barrel is knocked down, a camp item not loaded or an outrider is too far behind the wagon when crossing the line.  The action is fast and exciting, and much more personal than what one would experience at other events.
Drivers race their wagons to the finish line at the Battle of the Rockies in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta
It is the atmosphere that sets the Battle of the Rockies apart from other events of its kind.  Lynn explains that there is free camping on site for the entire event, where families mingle with each other and you can meet the race teams.  “It’s a big time event with an easy, down home character.”  Lynn explains, “We have the same races, mostly the same drivers as at the Calgary Stampede, but without all the crowds.  Here you can have a chance to get up close and personal with some of the top horsemen and athletic horses in the industry.”
There is something for everyone to enjoy at the Battle of the Rockies with live entertainment Friday through Saturday, wild pony racing and miniature bull racing every night, and many other events that give you a chance to experience this rich western heritage.
For more information visit http://www.battleoftherockies.org/
*All images courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Chuckwagon Asssociation