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2019 marked the 2nd time in as many years a cowboy from the United States made his way to Canada to compete as an outrider on the WPCA Pro Tour Presented by GMC. 

Keegan Thomas from Merkel, TX, a former PRCA competitor in Saddle Bronc Riding, Bull Riding and Team Roping made his WPCA Rookie Outriding debut in 2018 when he rode behind WPCA driver Josh Hrynyk.  Keegan went on to have a remarkable rookie year winning 5 show titles including the Calgary Stampede Aggregate and GMC Rangeland Derby.

One year later in 2019, Zach Bond from Nashua, Iowa, made his WPCA rookie outriding debut in Grande Prairie, AB riding behind driver Roy Romanow.  However, it wasn't Romanow who enticed Zach to come North.  The call came from WPCA driver Troy Dorchester, who according to Zach, called him from out of the blue and asked if he would be interested in coming up to Canada to race on the big circuit.   
Zach, a 3rd generation competitor, had been competing as an outrider in Iowa since 2014 with the Chuckwagon Racers of Iowa-Minnesota. Zach's dad Robert who outrode for 15 years and drove his own outfit for 10 years was all for Zach coming to Canada to compete. Robert had made the trip to Canada a number of years ago to purchase horses from retired WPCA driver Norm Cuthbertson. 

With Robert and Zach having a big passion for wagon racing they both felt this was a great opportunity.  Zach's mom however, wasn't so enthusiastic. "My mom is kind of a worry-wort" he said, "she gets all nervous sometimes about what I do like bull riding and I have been laid up in the hospital a few times." Zach explained how it was all safe and the horses were tame and in the end he was able to talk her into it but back at home she still worried.
In the spring of 2019 Troy Dorchester picked Zach up at the airport and his first spring training at the Dorchester ranch would begin. "The feed and training programs Troy had were so much better than ours" says Zach. "Troys outriding horses were so fit. When I got off the horses my fore arms would be sore from holding onto them because they wanted to run so fast."

Zach would eventually make his first WPCA road trip of the year when he hooked up with WPCA outrider Quinn Dorchester and made the 6 hour drive to Grande Prairie, AB.  "It was pretty exciting" he said,  "we had the music loud, windows rolled down and Quinn was telling me stories and it was exciting."
Before Zach could ride in an actual WPCA race he needed to be sanctioned by the WPCA so he performed the role of an outrider behind WPCA driver Dustin Gorst during one of his morning runs and passed the test.  Zach would go on to outride for WPCA drivers Roy Romanow, Roger Moore and Troy Dorchester on the WPCA Pro Tour and Lane Tournier during the demo run at the 2019 Calgary Stampede.  It was there that Zach says he fell off a horse for the first time.
"The barrel pattern went perfect" he said, "I always wait until the barrel pattern is complete before I reach for my stirrups. Going into turn one I got my foot into my left stirrup but as I leaned over to get my right foot in the horse ducked a bit and it threw my weight over the saddle horn and there was no saving myself."  It was an experience Zach will never forget as he got up from a muddy track with cameras on him and a grandstand of over 30,000 people.

Zach would get one more chance later in the week which went to perfection, however, that would be his last ride in Canada for 2019.  The association Zach had been apart of for years in Iowa were hosting their final events ever to be held.  "I went home after the Calgary Stampede and raced with my home team association one last time" he said,  "it was our last race event ever in the states and I couldn't miss that."
While Keegan Thomas is prepared to return to the WPCA, Zach Bond's future is uncertain.  "I would love to" he said, "I recently bought a house on the river so I'm not sure how that will work next year.
CLICK HERE to hear Zach Bond talk about his WPCA experience on the Outside the Wagon Podcast

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