The aftermath of a unsuccesful stampede

The stampede came to an end 2 weeks ago and The WPCA  has taken me through two more stops on the tour.   After not qualifing for the top 10 and a garranted spot, back to the Calgary  Stampede in 2008, the pressure is mounting.

I went to Edmonton, hoping to have the same or better success as last years 3rd place finish, and was of my most dissapointing Edmonton shows in my career. It has been a year of could,  would ,and should of done some things different.  A very heavy track and some horses coming up with some lung infection different horses had to be used and they just did not perform as they should of.  The extreme heat that we have had this summer and a lot of racing left ,  three of the horses i use of barrel one and two were left at home for rest and relaxation.  Hopefully getting them back healthy and rejuvenated will set me up for a stong finish in Drumheller and the rest of the year.

Drumhellerr  we continued to have lots of hot and dry weather  and the show was ran with great attendance and i believe good beer sales.  The saturday afternoon the  temperature  was 36 degrees in the shade and 56.2 in the sun.  Lots of water used on the horses to keep them cool and i doubled there electolytes.  I had a average show ended up 14 th in the show and held on to 17th in the world.

The strategy is a key now with  only three weeks left and 14 days of racing to QUALIFY for The Greatest Outdoor Show on the Earth.  I have had the great fortune to qualify every year, and I have been having better results every year .   It is a wagon drivers dream to be there and a nightmare to miss it.

Thanks again to ATB   my  sponsor  in Calgary.  They were again, great to work with and I took something home from ATB, that i will always recongize ,after having ,ATB working in conjuction with the childrens hospital, the visit the children had at the barns and going to the hospital to visit children that could not come to the barns .  I learnt that I am blessed to have a lovely family (wife Dori and three healthy children) and freinds and that I get to race chuckwagons and meet all sorts of people  and that there are less fortunate people in this world and that everyone should remember that it could be worse.    Missing the stampede in 2008 would be very hard to take ,  but having sick children would be even harder to take  and I take my COWBOY HAT off to every family that has to go through it and open my heart up to you if you need something as smalll as me sending a poster, or another visit to the hospital I can try to be there.

Chad Harden       



Ed Melville- Championship Night

Well Luke Tournier showed why he had the best outfit here over the 10 days.  For me personally, I am so lucky to have outrode for Luke  ever since he joined the WPCA in 2003.  It’s a good thing Luke won the truck because he will need it to haul away two beautiful bronzes, the clean drive award, and all the money he made all week.  He hooked his top outfit 8 times this week and won his heat every night,  never finishing  out of the top 3.  He put on a clinic.  My hat is off to the other finalists, Rick Fraser, Reg Johnstone, and Norm Cuthbertson.  For Norm even to be driving after getting kicked in the liver and face a month ago shows the heart of a true cowboy.  As for my fellow outriders, I am so proud of the job they did all week.  Dave Biever came back in Ponoka and never rode better.  Chad Fike, I am so proud of him, he has come so far in 3 short years, he will have a dozen of these titles before he is done.  And Logan Gorst, they had a tough night as a family on Saturday, and for him to put that aside and focus on the job at hand shows the heart of a champion.   I also want to give credit to Luke’s crew at the barn, Luke’s wife Michelle, sons Layne and Quaid, daughter Shalyn, Colby Nichol, and everyone else who helped.  The work they put into those horses, stretching them, bathing them, and getting them ready to perform is a tiring, thankless job, but probably the most important.  They don’t get enough credit.  In closing, I want to thank the Calgary Stampede for putting on such a first class event, and for allowing me to fufill my lifelong dream of being a Calgary Stampede Champion.  Before I go, I just want to mention the job Chanse Vigen did on saturday night when he jumped in Tyler Helmig’s wagon.  That was a selfless act of bravery that Chanse did, that man is a cowboy through and through.  None of Tyler’s horse were hurt and he saved another disaster by doing what he did.  God bless, and we will see you down the Chuckwagon Trail.

Ed Melville- Night 9

Last night was bittersweet for a lot of us.  On a personal note, we were lucky enough to win the new truck with Luke Tournier for the best aggregate time after 9 nights.  That is what we were gunning for.  However it was tough to be happy after the wreck we had in heat 7 with Gary Gorst and Tyler Helmig.  Tyler is in the hospital right now and I hope he heals up quick.  I was riding for Tyler last night and it is a helpless feeling seeing a good friend go flying like that.  As for Gary Gorst, I feel so bad for his family.  These horses are like family, and I know how much work and pride the Gorst family puts into these horses.  When they get hurt, its no different than seeing a child or family member get hurt.  Logan Gorst, Gary’s son, was riding with us for Luke Tournier and we could not have been there on that stage without him.  All the same all we can do is rally behind them and hope time will heal the pain.  For those people who think that wagon people don’t care about their horses, I wish you could have seen the whole barn area last night and the tears that were shed by all.  Tonight is the big $100,000 race, we need to regroup and try to put the past behind us.  Thank You.

The last day

Well it has been a great week at the stampede, i wish we had more rodeos like this one.  The crowd and the contestant have been awsome, Yesterday in the wild card round was very exciting Mickey Gee won the steer wrestling with a 3.6 then Wade Sumpter was second with a 3.8.  That was really good for Mickey he had had a little tough luck in the first four rounds,  and also he bought us a steak and the Keg steakhouse which was so good, and thanks to jeff the manager for making it very enjoyable for us.

I just want to thank the Calgary Stampede for hosting such a great event for all the cowboys and i look forward to coming back next year.

Now im going to try and win a hundred thousand.

 yee haa

Luke Branquinho

Friends of SAIT – Mark Sutherland

Going into the final night I would like to take this time to thank the two most important groups of people involved in our sport; all the chuckwagon fans and all the tarp sponsors.  It is imperative to our sport to have both these groups supporting us as they do. 

I must assume that if you are reading this blog then you yourself are a fan, so thank you.  We need bums in the seats and people cheering on the tarmac.  You being there makes what we love to do a sport.

The tarp sponsors are equally integral in the survival of the sport and if you are one of these people then I thank you again.  Sometimes groups get together and sell memberships much like Heritage Park or Friends of SAIT.  If you have had the opportunity to do this then thank you.  Corporations also sponsor wagons.  Hopefully if your company did, then you got down to the Rangeland Derby and enjoyed yourself.  It’s great watching these groups laughing and eating (maybe drinking) and seriously enjoying our sport.

Being that I have the keyboard, I would like to personally thank Friends of SAIT.  They have supported me the last two years but they have been great promoters of the Stampede and the sport of wagon racing for a number of years.  Great job and I hope to see you next year.

Good luck to my four friends who will be racing for the $100,000 dash tonight.  Whoever emerges the champion will have earned that one.

another day

Well day three of writing a blog, i haven’t done this much writing sense i was in high school, and i usually had someone else do it for me.

The rodeo went well for me yesterday, i won second and that’s what i had to do to make it to Sunday, so i got the day off but i will be helping some friends that are up today Gabe Ledoux and Mickey Gee.  Stockton Graves did what he had to do yesterday he won the round with a 3.5 i was 3.6, and Lee Graves was 3.7, it was an exciting go around.

The rodeo as a whole was very good to watch we got to go to the Calgary Herald Suite and visit with them for a bit and we had a great time.  it is so neat to see the sponsors have fun at the rodeo that to me is one of the most important thing that will help the sport grow.

Thanks for reading my blog you can also check out my own web site at, it has my schedule and results so check it out.

Luke Branquunho 

Gettin’ Close to the End – Mark Sutherland

It is typically after last night when even the most optimistic drivers realise where they actually stand at the Calgary Stampede.  By now there are only a small handful of competitors that have a chance at qualifying for the final Dash for Cash and I have found myself on the outside looking in.  I had a respectable run off of the four barrel but the heat was not that fast.  In fact almost all of my races were respectable.  After finishing 9 on day one and 6, 10, 12, 32, 6, 1, 9 respectively on the rest of the days, something looks out of place.  It is that 32 nd place finish that brings to light the reality that I am officially out of the competition.  Now as drivers we have to set another goal, something that is lower and achievable and let me tell you… that hurts.  As we go through the whole season and in fact as we go through the whole year, we gear up for the Calgary Stampede.  Everything revolves around this 10 days in July for us cowboys so when you realise you are not going to be the champion you have to find “other” small victories.  I have discovered a great new horse for my outfit, met a bunch of wonderful people, thoroughly enjoyed all the fans and friends, heard Joe Carbury call my name out in the way only he can, won a bunch of money, worked on my farmers tan with the great weather, signed a million autographs and set a blistering running time.  Wow, all that is way better than someone spraying sticky champagne in your eyes after the final night…Right?

Dustin Gorst, Saturday July 14 2007

Well now it is starting to get a little more serious, we are two nights of racing way from the big checks getting handed out.  My brother Logan turned to me this morning and said “These next two days is why we do all this training”.  All the long hard miles running down the road, all the hours in the gym that nobody sees or notices.  Days like today and tommorrow is why we do it.  Most people think that outriders  just party and jump on horses.  These people don’t know the new wave of outriders.  Don’t get me wrong we have our fun but now a days all the top outriders are athletes and we train to win.  All an outrider can hope for now is that all the time put in to it will all pay off in the end.   

Ed Melville- Night 8

Well tonight solved nothing, but it did make it more exciting for tomorrow night.  As expected, Luke tournier rested his top outfit and went with the second hook off the 4 barrel.  We made it out of there clean, but not very fast compared to the guys that we are battling against to win the Average and the GMC truck that comes with it.  Reg Johnstone and Norm Cuthbertson both had solid runs so they overtook Luke in the race.  Tomorrow night, we have the 1 barrel and we will have the big boys back on so it will be a huge night for all three guys.  Neal Walgenbach took top day money, which he needed to do to try and climb into 4th, but Rick Fraser hung onto that spot for now with another solid run.  Rick drove a smart race tonight, he got down on the rail behind Reg Johnstone right out of the barrels and let ‘em dance coming home.  Its been a great week, hats off to the Calgary Stampede!  Another outfit that I ride for, Shane Cartier, had his best run of the week.  Shane and Darcy Flad are both competing for the Orville Strandquist Rookie award and even that is coming down to the wire.  Orville is my grandfather and he competed at the Calgary stampede for over fifty years.  Both would be deserving winners, I ride for Shane, and Darcy used to outride for Orville so either way, I know both drivers would cherish having their name associated with a legend like my grandfather Orville.  All the best, I have to get to bed now because tomorrow is a big day.

Good Race for Harden!

Yesterday started a little bit differently than usual.  At 7am we harnessed and hooked a team and headed to the track to give four horses that haven’t raced some exercise.  Not only were these horses able to see the track, but there were also some speacial guests who had won the opportunity to take a ride in the chuckwagon at a sponsor function. They enjoyed the experience.

Last night’s race helped us move up in the standings.  We have a close heat, but with the right combination of horses things will go well. 

As well last night, Skippy the Squirrel impressed the crowd when he climbed up into the driver’s seat and drove the horses to the delight of the crowd!

Sixth year at the Stampede!

My name is Cody Wright and this is my 6th year here at the Stampede.  This years Stampede has been going well for me.  My first bronc I got on was Boomerang of Kesler’s.  I was 76 points on the ride.  I placed fourth in the round for $1500.  My second bronc this year was Cross Country of Stan Weatherly’s.  I was 79.5 on this bronc, but didn’t get in the money.  For my third bronc I got on Dry Whiskey of Calgary’s and was 81.5.  This gave me third for the round with $2500.  That brought my money winning for the first three days to $4000.  On Friday, I got on a bronc called Galactic Rocket of Calgary’s and was 77 points.  I fell short of the money on this ride.  I will ride again tomorrow, Saturday the 14th, and hopefully again on the 15th for the big money show!

It has been an awesome experience competing up here in the Calgary Stampede.  It’s a great opportunity to come and be a part of one of the best rodeo’s out there.  I would like to say thank you to the entire Stampede staff for the wonderful hospitality that has been shown to all of us cowboys and cowgirls and our families while we have been here.  The fans here at the Stampede are awesome.  They really get you going!

Again, thank you to everyone at the Stampede and especially the fans! Hopefully we will see you again next year!

Cody Wright

Ed Melville- Night 7

Every night gets more important as we get closer to the finish.  Mark Sutherland tore up the track last night off the 3 barrel.  My top outfit, Luke Tournier held tough again finishing second on the night.  What a dogfight to get in the final four, the next two nights are crucial.  Kelly Sutherland hasn’t had the greatest week by his standards, has had some penalties and other things, and yet, there he is banging on the door of the final 4.  He is like Tiger Woods in a golf tourney, if he is anywhere close he is dangerous and people are looking over their shoulder.  On a personal note, my dad was in the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic recieving treatment yesterday, and who does he run into signing posters and talking to people but Kelly Sutherland.  He was there all by himself, no press, no fanfare, just taking 3 hours out of a very hectic schedule to go visit people that he doesn’t even know to help them through a tough time.  Say what you want about the King, but that is very impressive and makes you feel good to be a cowboy.  With the new format of the Rodeo, the rodeo contestants are in town for a few days at a time now and it has been fun to hang out with some of those guys.  We had steer wrestler Jason Lahr ride in the wagon this morning with Neal Walgenbach, and then he is in there working.  Luke Branquino, Rodney Burks, Mickey Gee, Ronnie Fields, Will Lowe, Tom Mcfarland, we have been hanging with these guys quite a bit.  All great guys.  Tonight, we head to 1 barrel with Neal Walgenbach to try and make up some time.  Lets go make something happen!

hi again

Well another exciting day at the stampede Lee Graves whipped it on us  with a 3.6 for first and Tanner Millan has been sticking it on us as well, he has placed good in all three rounds so far.  I split 5Th for a little money but i need to do well today to advance to  Sunday if not it will be the wild card round on Saturday.

I no that i sound like a broken record but the Calgary Stampede is the best rodeo for many reasons but one of the biggest is the people of Calgary that support the rodeo, it is nice to be thought of as a professional athlete and that is how it is in Calgary.  We went to a sponsor party last nice to meet some of the people that make it possible for the cowboys to win the kind of money that we can win and the were so awesome just to talk to and share stories with.  so once again i want to thank Calgary for everything they are doing for the cowboys.

Also thanks to the rodeo committee for making the cowboys feel like we are at home in Calgary.

Thanks again

Luke Branquinho

Well Wishers and Wishing Wells, a Daymoney Run – Mark Sutherland

The nicest part about being a chuckwagon driver at the Calgary Stampede is the fans and friends sincerely hoping for you to do well.  These folks are well wishers.  I experience this myself as a fan of other professional sports.  I am happy when Iggy scores a pretty goal or when Favre throws a great pass.  If I had a chance to talk to these guys before or after a game I would wish them luck, tell them I hope they do well and try to let them know I really mean it.  Then I sit on the sidelines and watch.  So I guess as a fan of hockey and football, I by my own definition am a well wisher.  I also feel this as a trainer and driver of great athletes.  I love to see my horses succeed.  Watching them compete fills me with pride and a sense of satisfaction.  For them too, I am a well wisher.

I suppose I should correct myself.  Well wishers are the second best thing about being a chuckwagon driver.  The best thing about being a chuckwagon driver is, well… being a chuckwagon driver.  It is starting at the sound of the horn, flying around the barrels and winning the race.  The feeling you get as this is happening is indescribable.  I will however attempt.  When the wagon jerks forward there is an optimistic splash that hits your mind.  “I think this might work, I may be fast”, you say to yourself.  As the horses charge around the top barrel you feel the immense power and you get flung like a ribbon in the wind.  A quick glance around at your competitors and you realize, “I got it, yessss!  Go boys, go.”

As you race into the first turn, feeling the wagon surge every jump the horses take.  Every jump feels like you are on the end of a tow rope in your truck and some one takes that first pull trying to get you out of a snow filled ditch.  EVERY jump feels like that and as they race into the backstretch you begin to feel elated.  All your training, all your staff, all your investment, all the sacrifices your family made for you…it is all paying off.

As you cross the finish line knowing you outran everyone, as you hear the roar of the crowd and yell to your horses “Way to go boys!  Thank you.”  This is where the wishing wells come in.  Every time I throw a penny in a wishing well, every time I see a falling star,  every time I break the wishbone or pick a bent up wish chip from a bag,  every time I find a penny and every time I throw that penny right into the next wishing well,  this is what I hope for; a Day money run at the Calgary Stampede and fastest time of the whole show.

I’m glad I visited enough wishing wells lately, and I’m glad to see all the well wishers.

Dustin Gorst, Friday July 13 2007

Another day gone by another day to look forward to.  Like every other Calgary stampede it is going by way to fast.  It seems like you wait forever for the stampede to start and then when it comes it flies right by.  This is the biggest event for all chuckwagon families and all of the training for the horses is gear around tring to win the Rangeland Derby.  When things don’t work out it is one of the most disappointing feelings a person could get but it is that feeling that keeps bringing everyone back.  That is the beauty of sports only one group of people can call themselves champions.  Hopefully one day it will all work out for the Gary Gorst barn.  But until then we will keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully old lady luck will jump on board.