At the end of every race season a chuckwagon driver turns his focus to the following year. In most if not all cases, improving horse power or finding horses to fill open positions is their main priority. Chuckwagon drivers can travel endless miles to find new horses and as each horse walks out of their trailer and into the barn or pen, the anticipation of what that horse might become begins.
Drivers who have won some of the biggest shows on the WPCA Pro Tour or were crowned world champion are not exempt from this process. They now become the ones to beat and to stay among the top their focus to improve never ends.
For Two-Time Grande Prairie Stompede Champion, Obrey Motowylo, he officially referred to his off season as a rebuild. Over the last seven months Obrey's rebuild has included the addition of news horses and a major equipment change he feels prevented him from achieving better results in 2019.
Motowylo picked up eleven new horses during the off season bringing his herd total up to thirty five. "I shopped local this year" Motowylo said, "all of my new horses were purchased in Alberta." In 2018 he purchased some horses out of Winnipeg then gave them a year off before training them this spring. Obrey has been training his new horses for over a month as he prepares for the season ahead. His veteran horses are still just hanging out waiting for their time.
Horses were just part of Motowylo's rebuild plan. A major adjustment included a change to his wagon after issues were identified late last year. "I felt I had the horses but we just weren't getting the results" He said, "I tried driving Kris Molles horses with my wagon and my time was two seconds slower than when he drove them so I knew something was wrong."
Obrey then decided to conduct a more detailed investigation of his wagon to see if that's where the problem was. He went on a morning run with fellow driver Bob Van Eaton and Bob noticed the the pole was bouncing back and forth more than it should be. Following the run they analyzed the undercarriage and identified the back axle was slightly bent and the wheels were out causing the wagon not to pull properly.
Needing a new wagon to get through the end of the season, Obrey received help from now retired driver Jim Knight. Knight offered up his wagon after the Calgary Stampede. He used it from Strathmore on and it made a big difference. "We made a few wheel adjustments then got it weighed to ensure we met the 1325 pound requirement" he said. "WPCA rules state a wagon must weigh a minimum of 1325 pounds with the driver in it."
The move paid off for Obrey and he says there were some good runs during the finals. "We had a nice finish at Century Downs. We won the $5,000.00 heat bonus on the final day and it felt good"
Obrey and thirty five other WPCA drivers now await the start of the 2020 WPCA race season.
THE INSIDE TRACK
Equipment is important and also comes with a cost. The under carriage itself can run upwards of $8,500.00 and a new wagon can range from $15,000.00 - $20,000.00. Obrey has is wagon in the frame shop and hopes to have it out within a couple of weeks.
Ethan Motowylo (Obreys Son) recently returned from farrier school in Oklahoma and Obrey is pretty happy. "It's nice to have Ethan home and helping" he said, "he is a good horseman and is going to be a good farrier too."
One of Ethan's first projects back home was trimming a pot belly pig. Obrey joked and said he called him a "Pig Farrier" then told Ethan to try and put shoes on him.
Obrey has his sights set on getting back up in the standings where he feels he should be. He wants to stay consistent and tough and win a dash for cash. His son Hayden is now old enough to out ride in Calgary, so both Ethan and Hayden along with Obrey will complete one of the family trios competing at the Calgary Stampede this year.
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