WHEN HAROLD CHAPIN needs shoes or nails for any of the more than 150 chuck wagon horses that he shoes, he doesn’t walk out to his pickup truck to get them. Instead, he asks the wagon owner to find the needed nails and shoes in his supply and to bring them out.
That’s one of the remarkable things about shoeing chuck wagon horses involved in the Rangeland Derby Championship, an exciting part of every Calgary Stampede since 1923.
Based on the Old Western tradition of having ranch cooks move the range camp each day and cooking and baking for the hungry cowboys at roundup time, it’s turned into an exciting racing extravaganza held every July over the past 79 years at Alberta’s Calgary Stampede.
During the 10-day Calgary Stampede, 36 chuck wagon teams race for $500,000 in prize money and a $40,000 pickup truck. Wagon tarp sponsorships by businesses bring in additional income for chuck wagon families. While auction prices vary, one business paid $120,000 for the tarp rights for one of this year’s Calgary Stampede chuck wagon entries.
Besides Calgary, there’s a racing circuit that runs nearly every weekend from May through mid-August in western Canada. Members of the World Professional Chuck Wagon Association and Canadian Professional Chuck Wagon Association participate in more than a dozen events each year and a half dozen tarp auctions. At the end of this year’s season, a number of the top chuck wagon teams will be heading south to Las…