Submitted by Danette Deck
First off and on a separate note, I would like to wish all of the friends, supporters and chuck wagon racing fans out there a very peaceful holiday season and a prosperous New Year from both of us.
The sport of Thoroughbred chuck wagon racing is a very unique part of Alberta’s western heritage, it’s exclusive only to the rodeos and stampedes of Alberta and Saskatchewan and you will find nothing like it anywhere else in the world! A huge driving force behind this rare and unequaled sport are the people of Alberta’s beautiful Peace Country. The Peace is the unaccredited capital of wagon racing! I guess credit isn’t what anybody up here is looking for, truly it is a way of life for so many families residing here. Not only is Grande Prairie home to World Professional drivers Kelly Southerland, Mike Vigen, and Hugh Sinclair but also to a small grass roots association called the Western Chuckwagon Association. The WCA plays a crucial and again unaccredited role in the sport of wagon racing. It provides many aspiring drivers their first taste of wagon racing, from the time and financial commitment required, to the conditioning and horse care, to the much needed experience on the race track and in the wagon box. Without this association, it’s members and sponsors, the sport of wagon racing may have already become just another page in the history books. Now some folks feel that maybe it’s time we retired wagon racing to mildly entertaining stories of years past but for now wagon racing is alive and well here in the Peace. So like it or not, the millions of people around the world who have travelled to Alberta and experienced the sport first hand will return home with stories and photos of this thing called chuck wagon racing. Tiny little northern towns with a very unique and tough as nails people, like Spirit River, will always be remembered for an aspect of the wild west that has yet to ever be reproduced anywhere else in the world.
Now that being said…..if you find yourself on main street in Spirit River, standing say somewhere between the RBC and the ATB, head straight south out of town. The pavement turns to dirt and the road will curve slightly to the left and maybe two kilometers from your starting point you will come to the first west heading dirt road on your right. Turn there! The herd of horses in the field on your right belong to Sean DeBolt, so does the grey barn and the grey house set back against the hillside. Now, if we’re going to be real picky, Sean isn’t from Spirit River per se, he is “from” Fourth Creek but who the heck knows where that is! Sean IS from Spirit River in every sense and he is Spirit River’s very own wagon driver. He is a young man, as far as wagon drivers go, and he is unique in the wagon world as he is the only driver to have competed in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association, the Canadian Chuckwagon Association, the Western Chuckwagon association and two different pony chuck wagon associations. The man has got the experience there is no denying that and in 2012 Sean will run in the local Western Association again and continue to save his pennies and build a reserve stash of horse power so that he can eventually return to the WPCA and try to usurp “the King” from his throne. Aside from his varied experience, Sean has something else very unique to the chuck wagon world……His partner in crime rides English style! Yes, Sean’s spouse Danette, presently trains under two of Canada’s Three Day Eventing Olympic team members and is a huge advocate of western and natural horsemanship. In the horse world one would think that these two should never cross paths but a love for the Thoroughbred and an understanding of the horse as a magnificent and powerful athlete has made this union something special in the horse world. So, whether you are just chuck wagon curious or looking for help with your own equine partner, take the drive by the DeBolt farm. They are valuable resources to the horse community and they are Spirit River’s very own. You can learn more about Sean and Danette at www.chuckndust.com