Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

Layne MacGillivray is a third generation chuckwagon driver from Halkirk, AB. He is one of many in the wagon racing community who was thrilled to see the return of the sport in 2021. Layne and his wife Loreena recently offered WHR a glance behind-the-scenes of their operation, while they were on a leg of their summer tour for the Strathmore Stampede. At the time of writing, MacGillivray was sitting first in the standings of the World Professional Chuckwagon Racing Association, having just come off a spectacular run in High River, AB.

MacGillivray gave us the chance to ask some tough questions about his sport and his lifestyle. Here’s what he had to say:

WHR – Why do you love wagon racing?

LM – “It’s a combination of a few things. Being around horses is number one. The thrill of the competition, friendships you make and the lifestyle. You get addicted to it, basically. It’s been good to us. We’ve had our ups and downs for sure, but overall it’s been good.”

WHR – What’s your schedule like this summer?

LM – We’ll go home for a few days after Strathmore. Then we leave Wednesday for Bonnyville, AB. After that it’s Dawson Creek, BC, Rocky Mountain House, AB, then Ponoka, AB, and after that, we turn the horses out and go back to work.

(MacGillivray works for League Projects as a truck driver in the off-season.)

WHR – So, you have another career in the winter?

LM – Yes, it gives me some stability to the year. Chuckwagon racing can sustain itself but you can’t do it and then just live for the other months. The horses pay for themselves. But as far as going home and kicking your feet up after the season – that don’t happen.

WHR – Are you excited to see the chucks go back to Stampede next year?

LM – Yeah definitely. It has been a tough two years not having it. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of it for many years and it’s definitely something we all want to get back to. The chuckwagons have been a very big part of the Stampede over the years and we as competitors don’t want to see that end.

WHR – Is there anything that can be done to make wagon racing safer?

LM – I truly believe we’ve done almost everything we can to make it safer. It’s tough. Unfortunately, accidents can happen. But I’ll tell you, when an accident does happen it tears a hole in everybody’s campsites [referring to the community of wagon drivers camped around any wagon racing event]. It’s not like it doesn’t go unnoticed. Everyone here hurts when something happens.

WHR – So what if the races were just a little slower, but still had a dramatic finish at the end?

LM – We’ll it’s tough to rate the horses and it’s not really the speed that gets anyone in trouble. An equipment failure can cause an accident but everyone has safeties on their equipment now to help avoid a potential accident from an equipment failure, so that has been a big change. For us as drivers, we thrive on the competition but we also feel that the fans who come out to watch the sport do as well – so we want to keep the competition there. On the other hand, we don’t thrive on it so much that we want to hurt a horse or another person just to win.

I have been part of racing indoors down in Houston and Ft. Worth Texas where we had to set races up some nights. It’s not easy to do and almost makes it more unsafe than just competing.

WHR -Do you ever have animal activists actually bother you?

LM – Not really but back in 2002 in Calgary, I had trouble with a horse the first night. A guy come to my barn three days later. He wanted to know the condition of the horses, how they were being cared for, etc. He’d heard lots of stuff about the way we treat our horses and how we care for them. When he walked into my barn, he was impressed with the condition of the horses, they all had feed in front of them, the barn was cleaned, etc. He was convinced. He left that day, happy.

WHR – Do you think that’s part of the answer then, in dealing with activists?

LM – We’ve invited activists down, to follow our routine. We do everything for these horses. They eat before we do. They do a lot of things before us. What some people don’t understand is, we get these horses off the track anywhere from age four to eight. For many of them they’re at the end of their racing career, they don’t fit into the jumping or dressage world. It’s true that some don’t want to run any longer, so you have to find another job for them. Some can be turned into good outrider horses. But if not, then you find another riding home for them. And that’s part of our job too – rehoming them if need be. One way or another, we give them another life.

Then, we also retire the ones who’ve run for us after a certain point – I don’t like to run them past age 18. They’ve done it long enough. I’ve had horses in the pasture until they’re 25-26. We take care of them until the end.

The reason we buy them off the track is because we as drivers, have so much into our horses by age four for instance, that it’s more economical to just buy off the track. We don’t breed any horses and most of the ones you’ll see wagon racing are geldings.

I’ve got 21 horses here on the road with me that I feel, if I didn’t have them – I don’t know where they’d be. I’ve got eight more at home. That’s the biggest thing. We feel like we give them another life.

  • Interview by Jenn Webster

Calgary Stampede 2018 Winners

Ryder Wright scored a career high 93 points on Stampede Warrior to become the $100,000 Saddle Bronc Champion. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

Showdown Sunday at the Calgary Stampede is known as the ‘Richest Day in Rodeo.’ After nine days of battling it out in the rodeo arena, winners of each event  took home a cheque for $100-thousand dollars.

Here are your 2018 winners:

SADDLE BRONC: Ryder Wright of Milford, Utah, scored a career high 93 points on Stampede Warrior to become the $100,000 Saddle Bronc Champion.

BAREBACK RIDING: Richie Champion of Dublin, Texas, rode Virgil to the championship of the $100,000 Bareback title.

BULL RIDING: Marcos Gloria of Brazil is the $100,000 Bull Riding champion.

STEER WRESTLING: Matt Reeves of Cross Plains, Texas, won the $100,000 in the steer wrestling with a time of 4.7 seconds.

BARREL RACING: Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, Texas, and her horse Sister are your $100,000 champions with a time of 17.078.

TIE DOWN ROPING: Tuf Cooper, Weatherford, TX, is the $100,000 Tie Down Roping Champion.

GMC RANGELAND DERBY: Kurt Bensmiller, Dewberry, AB, wins the Dash for Cash at the Calgary Stampede.

Hailey Kinsel and her horse, Sister dominated the competition every day they were up. They are your $100,000 champions. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.


Tuf Cooper is the $100,000 Tie Down Roping Champion. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.


Marcos Gloria of Brazil is the $100,000 Bull Riding champion. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.


Kurt Bensmiller, Dewberry, AB, wins the Dash for Cash at the Calgary Stampede. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.



GMC Rangeland Derby – King Kelly’s Final Lap

The King of the Chuckwagons, Kelly Sutherland is set to take his last laps around the Calgary Stampede track this year. Photo: Leah Hennel/Post Media


Re-posted with permission from Calgary Stampede News
By: Scott Cruickshank, Calgary Stampede

The writing on the side of the shiny truck nicely sums up the man’s career. Painted in big letters, white on black, are two lines – 12 world championships, 12 Calgary championships. That snapshot of dominance is digestible even at highway speed. And the licence plate declares who’s in the driver’s seat – KING K. Yes, the King. Kelly Sutherland. The chuckwagon legend, who will soon know if he needs to update that paint job, is taking his last crack at the GMC Rangeland Derby. Because, whether he likes it or not, the pasture awaits. Aging out at 65 years old, does not mean he intends to tiptoe away from the Calgary Stampede. A household name, the winningest reinsman in history, he remains hungry.

“When you talk about racing, I was a hog – I got to the trough,” says Sutherland, relaxing at his son Mark’s spread, south of Calgary. “When I leave, there’s going to be quite a vacuum… because I’m always perceived to be a threat to win. If I can get there, I can usually get the job done.”

Action – with $1.15 million in prize money – opens Friday at 7:45 p.m. It concludes July 17 with the Dash for Cash. One of 36 invitees, Sutherland has appeared 21 times in the championship heat. So he doesn’t see why he can’t pad his portfolio.

“Oh, that would be special,” he says of the prospect of nailing down a 13th title here. “Every win has been extremely emotional, especially the last ones. You know you’re coming to the top of the mountain and you’re putting up more flags. That’s how I look at it – you make your mark higher every time you win. The minute you stop doing that, of course, your career starts going the other way.”

Sutherland admits that, physically, he ain’t what he used to be. Even faithfully following an off-season training regimen hasn’t slowed a case of the creaks. As a relatively small driver, five foot 11 and 175 pounds, he’s taken a beating over the past 50 years. “Shoulders, hips, all moving joints,” says the Grande Prairie, Alta., native. “The last five years have been extremely hard on my body. My body has been telling me for a while that things aren’t so nice.”

“I can walk – everybody knows somebody that can’t – so I think that it’s just time for me.”

The sport won’t see another character like him. Peers and fans love or hate the outspoken star, but no one can dispute his profile, which he took measures to enhance. Accommodating reporters. Signing autographs. Promoting himself. “I was the first chuckwagon driver that actually made posters,” says Sutherland. “It was frowned upon in the ’70s by the old guys. They were very reserved. It was the western way – you didn’t blow your own horn. My whole life has been colourful to say the least.”

Without question. Only 17 years old, and already married to his sweetheart Debbie, he made an erratic debut at the Stampede. At 20, he placed second.

“I thought, ‘Well, there it goes – I’m never going to win this thing.’ ” But in 1974, he became the youngest-ever victor in Calgary – only 22. He claimed four of the next five crowns. “I thought I was invincible, that I could win at will.”

But over the next 19 years, he registered only a single Rangeland victory. Carousing was taking its toll. Desperately reaching out to Alcoholics Anonymous, he’s been sober since 1995. “(Drinking) used to consume about eight hours of my day,” says Sutherland. “(Without booze) you’ve got that eight hours to put to use and I just focused on racing horses and winning. “I got cleaned up and I won (the Stampede) five out of six years.” Along the way to chuckwagon’s pinnacle, he cultivated a couple of trademarks – the eagle feather (tucked into his hat band before his first Stampede triumph and immediately a permanent part of his get-up) and the exuberant post-race thumbs-up.

“That’s emotional,” Sutherland says of the gesture. “When you win something and you beat a bunch of guys … some guys hide emotion, I don’t.” He managed to capture Rangeland Derby titles in his 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s – and one a couple of months shy of his 60th birthday. Imagine that.

“When I was a kid, I always had so much drive to be successful,” he says. “Internally, I felt that I had to conquer some sporting event. Fortunately, I won early and often when I was young. I got the confidence. After that, it was natural.

“At some of the bigger events, like Calgary, (I felt) it’s not mine to win, it’s mine to lose. There was just an air about it. I feel an entitlement that that show is blocked and reserved for me.”

Now Sutherland, a great-grandfather, is done. Nearly. “Kind of surreal,” he says, “because I’ve witnessed the sport come from the real, real rough, tough, old cowboy stance to a lot of commercialization now. I’m sure I’ll miss it, but I think I’m ready to move onto another chapter in my life.”

About the Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west.  The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and promotes western heritage and values.  All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.

Canvas Auction Numbers Up

In a show of strong community support for the sport of chuckwagon racing, the total auction proceeds this evening are $2,420,500 up $123,000 from 2016. Kelly Sutherland takes home the top bid of the night, $110,000, courtesy of Friends of the King.

“This sport has deep roots in our city and in our country, and tonight’s bidding makes that very clear,” said Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon committee chair Mike Piper, following the auction. “The support pledged to these drivers helps to ensure we will continue to enjoy chuckwagon racing for years to come.”

In total, more than 175 groups and companies registered for the opportunity to advertise with the 36 men who will be competing in the 2017 GMC Rangeland Derby during the Calgary Stampede, July 7-16. The proceeds of tonight’s auction will help those drivers cover the expense of caring for and travelling with their horses, not just during the Calgary Stampede, but throughout the racing season.

In addition to gaining valuable exposure for their brand, successful bidders now have the opportunity to offer clients, employees, friends and family a one-of-a-kind experience in the chuckwagon barn area during the 2017 Calgary Stampede.  For interested parties, a select few of those opportunities may still be possible post-auction by teaming up with successful bidders. More information is available at

  2017 2016
Total Auction Proceeds  $2,420,500 $2,297,500
Average Bid $67,236 $63,819
Top bid driver Kelly Sutherland Kurt Bensmiller
Top bid $110,000 $120,000

2015 Calgary Stampede Poster Artwork Unveiled

Dr. Gordon Atkins, chair, Chuckwagon committee, left, and Bill Gray, vice-chair, Calgary Stampede Board, unveil Stavrowsky's original artwork for the 2015 Calgary Stampede poster. The piece will be auctioned off during the Western Art Auction on Thursday, July 10, 2014.

Dr. Gordon Atkins, chair, Chuckwagon committee, left, and Bill Gray, vice-chair, Calgary Stampede Board, unveil Stavrowsky’s original artwork for the 2015 Calgary Stampede poster. The piece will be auctioned off during the Western Art Auction on Thursday, July 10, 2014.

The 2015 Calgary Stampede poster artwork, created by artist Oleg Stavrowsky, was revealed at the annual Canvas Auction taking place on Thursday, March 20. The annual auction of chuckwagon tarps used for business advertising, proved to be a suitable venue for the chuckwagon-themed painting. The artwork pays homage to the chuckwagon drivers and horses that have been an integral part of the Stampede for the past 91 years.

“This year, I wanted the insert some action into the poster — and nothing speaks of action more than the chuckwagon races,” says Calgary Stampede Vice-Chairman of the board, Bill Gray.

“The chuckwagon races have been a part of the Stampede since 1923 and are one of the most exciting events during the 10-day Stampede. To capture this iconic event, I chose an artist who has a particular talent for bringing his subjects to life.”

Gray commissioned Stavrowsky to create the piece himself, as it is the official duty of the incoming president to choose a potential artist, and Gray will become Calgary Stampede president and chairman of the board in May 2015.

Stavrowsky’s original artwork depicts the thundering chuckwagon races of the Calgary Stampede. The stunning detail in the piece was achieved through Stavrowsky’s three-part process. Initial pencil sketches were completed then he built a wooden “scale model” of wagons for an accurate reference for the painting the figures and horses in the piece are painted from life, real life and real people.

In August of 2013, Stavrowsky was one of the first artists to become a member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists, a new elite group of contemporary western skills.

“Being granted the opportunity to create the artwork for the 2015 Calgary Stampede poster was an honour,” says Stavrowsky. “Western art is my passion; there are so many aspects of western heritage that I could capture. I chose to paint the chuckwagon to represent the spirit and action of the Calgary Stampede.”

The Calgary Stampede has been creating posters for more than 100 years. Although they have now become a collector’s piece, they were originally used as the primary form of promotion for the event.

The 2015 original artwork will be on display at the Western Oasis until it is sold during the Western Art Auction on Thursday, July 10, 2014 in the Palomino Room, BMO Centre. Tickets for the auction can be purchased from the Western Art Sales Desk located in the Western Oasis, BMO Centre.

Glass Bests Track Record

The 2013 GMC Rangeland Derby has been won by Jason Glass. Photograph by: Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald

With a roaring crowd and thundering hooves the 2013 GMC Rangeland Derby has been won by Jason Glass. Along with bragging rights Jason also took home a cheque for $100,000.

On Saturday night, Glass trimmed a half second off the 1:10.38 mark he set Thursday night with a rail run of 1:09.87 from the No. 1 barrel in the second semifinal and ninth heat of the night. It was the first run under 1:10 of this $1.1 million show.

Jason Glass, Jerry Bremner, Kirk Sutherland and Rick Fraser earned their way into Sunday’s final heat by virtue of their performances in Saturday’s semi-finals. Jason Glass made the most of the opportunity, capturing the title on Sunday night.

This year Jason won both the 2013 Aggregate on Saturday, July 13 and a cheque for $100,000 in tonight’s GMC Rangeland Derby.

Driven by tradition. Guided by experts, the Calgary Stampede invites only the top outfits in North America to compete for 1.5 million in prize money.

– source, Calgary Herald 

Chuckwagon Canvas Auction Tops $3.6 Million

September/October Sneak Peek

Coming soon to your mailbox and newsstand, I’m excited to preview the September/October issue for y’all here.

When I watched seasoned chuckwagon driver Chad Harden’s lead horse collapse and the subsequent pile-up of horses, humans and wheels during a heat of the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby on July 12, my heart leapt to my throat. Reviewing it on film, it was unimaginable the humans escaped injury, but fortunately they did. Three horses however, were lost; the Harden family and his barn subsequently devastated and heartbroken. Those immersed in the chuck racing circuit culture know and understand the level of care and love that goes into these animals, where horses are truly a part of the family.

Chad Harden racing at the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby. Photo by Deanna Buschert.

 Just three nights later on July 15, after the last heat of the races, 40-year veteran driver Grant Profit, sold his entire outfit including horses, during a retirement auction at the same barns Harden’s team had pulled out of three days before. A highlight of the sale was the right and left lead of Profit’s team – Forever Grand and Anglian Prince, a pair of former race horses. The 13-year-old Thoroughbreds sold for a combined $179,000 to another experienced driver, Kelly Sutherland. He later stated he felt the two horses who had been “barned together” for many years should stay together, illustrating the value these horses represent to their owners – not only in monetary means, but emotionally as well.

I spoke with Shelly Profit after the sale and she reiterated their devotion to their animals:

“All of our horses that we sold meant the world to us and we spent hours every day with them. Caring for them, feeding, brushing and training, each one of them have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. Even in the winter we would just go out in the pasture with them and they would all come up to us for a pet on the nose, and most of them loved peppermints and that was their treats. They were truly a part of our family, and we miss them dearly.”

A study on chuckwagon horses during races is currently in progress by a University of Calgary researcher who was on the scene at this year’s Rangeland Derby conducting a series of medical trials on the horses. Deanna Buschert’s piece, Scientific Experiment, reveals how that research may help not only chuckwagon horses, but other equine athletes as well.

Max Gibb is confident of the Balzac racetrack’s future. “It will make us the Woodbine of Western Canada,” he says. “And, it will be a big, big boost for horse racing.” Photo by Jessica Patterson

The remains of a track of another sort stands abandoned in a field northeast of Calgary. The Balzac racetrack was destined to restore and nurture the growth of horse racing in Alberta. Instead it dissolved into a field of unrealized dreams. Writer Jessica Patterson spent a good month researching the timeline of how this dream went down for her story, Field of Dreams. There is a faint hope the track will move forward, though on a much reduced scale and with mini-steps. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

When we came across this photo of Chantal Sutherland in a recent issue of Vanity Fair, we knew we had to include the Ontario born jockey in Jenn Webster’s feature piece, Generation Y Cowgirl. 

With numbers estimated as high as 70 million, Generation Y (those born 1981-1994) is the fastest growing segment of today’s workforce. This group of achievement-oriented individuals are both tech-savvy and conversely, uninterested in the fast track. They’ll gladly trade in the security of a job for a flexible work schedule and doing what they love. They are attention-cravers and motivated by praise and reassurance, whether by mentors or a much larger audience. Outside of the baby boomers, they are the most influential demographic group in our population. I love Jenn Webster’s interviews with four such incredibly driven females, including Chantal, in her story.

 This feature quickly came forward as the subject for this issue’s cover. Thanks to photographer Neville Palmer for his conceptualization of this cover shoot.

Also in this issue, Managing Editor, Dainya Sapergia, also takes a up close and personal look at the relatively underground sport of polocrosse.

Photo by Krista Kay.

Western Lifestyle Editor, Deanna Beckley, together with photographer, Krista Kay, put together an eight page Fall Fashion feature, which simply wowed us all.

Photo by Deanna Buschert.

Deanna Buschert and I enjoyed a positively lovely afternoon hanging out with this gal and her Corgi’s in her incredible western home, and I was able to write about it in my feature, Western Retreat. 

With show season in full swing we covered some of the very many events already completed, took a look at the Calgary Stampede’s Cowboy Challenge champion Jim Anderson’s favorite bit and kicked off a new regular feature, Show Ready, this issue showcasing must-have items every reiner has on their list.

In the realm of horse health, don’t miss our Equine Practitioners Guide, showcasing a selection of the top professionals in the business. As well, we take a look at five favorite equine supplements, get yourself versed on how to recognize and understand lameness, and develop an understanding for why some two-year-olds are shod.

Photo by Larry Wong.

Writer Melissa Sword penned a fascinating piece on barrel racer Gaylene Buff, in her piece, Driven to Succeed. As you will read, this is a competitor with a hard working attitude and intense determination to succeed.

Finally, it’s sale time! Check out the best sales of this fall in our annual Fall Sale Guide. (Be sure you are subscribed to our e-newsletter feed to catch updates on these sales and heads up of late additions.)

We hope we’ve hit the right mix of horsemanship, western culture and style for y’all with this issue. I hope you love reading it, as much as we enjoyed building it.

2012 GMC Rangeland Derby Champion

Troy Dorchester 2012 GMC Rangeland Derby
The Calgary Stampede’s 2012  GMC Rangeland Derby Champion is Troy Dorchester. The final four chuckwagon drivers dueled for the prestigious title and lucrative payday that comes with winning the Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby. Jason Glass, Doug Irvine, Gary Gorst and Troy Dorchester earned their way into Sunday’s final heat by virtue of their performances in Saturday’s semi-finals. Dorchester made the most of the opportunity, capturing the title on Sunday night.

Dorchester has been on a role lately. He has won the Calgary Stampede Aggregate, the Ponoka Stampede and the Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby and has taken home two trucks and over $200,000 in prize money.