A love of the sport has brought a Bashaw chariot driver out of retirement after a decade away.
Laura Talbot has been “heavily involved” in horses and chuckwagons since she was 14 years old, even volunteering at a stable in Chilliwack, B.C., as a youth just so she could be around the animals.
It was at the Chilliwack stable where Talbot first got the real bug for driving; a driver boarded his team at the stable and Talbot ended up helping care for the animals. As time went on, she learned more about the sport and eventually began helping hook and unhook the team.
As a teenager, she began running a chariot; she took part in the sport for many years until, unfortunately, a decade ago Talbot was injured and unsure if she would be able to make her way back to the sport.
“I sort of retired,” said Talbot.
“It took a while to get back into it.”
However, the 2023 season marked her return and since the season kicked off in June, Talbot and her family have been touring on the Alberta Professional Chuckwagon and Chariot Association (APCCA) circuit.
Talbot says that she would not have been able to be back on the circuit again without the support of her sponsors; every weekend two semi-trailers, two chariots, two chuckwagons and 20-25 horses head down the road as the entire family competes.
“Helping us get down the road helps us put back into the community,” said Talbot, noting that sponsorships help many of the small-town rodeo events go.
When Talbot travels, it is with her boyfriend and his family, all of whom race or otherwise participate in the sport; even her boyfriend’s son takes part in gymkhana events at rodeos where they are held.
“We’re in it for the love of the sport and the love of the horses,” said Talbot.
According to Talbot, the APCCA season runs from June through the September long weekend, for a total of 11 shows.
Each show usually sees in between 15-25 competitors and most are a three-day Friday to Sunday format.
“There’s enough drivers to put on a good show,” said Talbot.
So far, Talbot has competed in Debolt, where she came in fifth due to a penalty on the last day, and Rio Grande, near Beaver Lodge, where she won with a two-second lead over second place. She’s also recently taken part in Westerner Days and racing in Viking.
According to the APCCA website, Talbot currently sits at 37th place of 39 in the standings.
For more information about chariot or chuckwagon racing in the province, check out the APCCA website at chuckwagon.ab.ca.