After experiencing the loss of half of his horse team this summer, teamster Brad Cameron stepped back in the area to compete at the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo.
Cameron was taking his son and daughter for a morning ride on his team of two horses on July 27, Max and Duke, when a pickup truck decided to pass on the narrow gravel road, spooking the horses and resulting in Max dying of a heart attack.
On the weekend of Aug. 31, however, Cameron got back behind the reigns and competed in various heavy horse events at the rodeo, noting his successes at the event came in small increments, but ultimately led to him winning in the Novice Wagon Competition.
“I didn’t use my team for any of the wagon dragging events because I’m still a little gun shy about being on a wagon, so I went into the novice class with another teamster; I had a senior driver sitting next to me and I was the junior driver and got first place in the novice edition,” said Cameron.
“That was really good. I was happy I overcame my anxiety about driving a wagon again, got out there and competed and won. So I was pleased about that.”
As for the other events he competed in, Cameron said he didn’t do as well, largely because he had to borrow a new horse named Bob from a friend to take Max’s spot on the team.
This made it so Cameron had little time to practice and get Bob and his horse Duke to work well together, but that didn’t deter Cameron from trying.
The first event of the weekend was called the Funny Farm, and in the end, Cameron had to withdraw because his new team just wouldn’t work.
“You have a stone boat. I’m on it, a swamper is on it, and the first set of cones you pull up to, the swamper has to put on a set of coveralls and gloves. The next cone you have to load hay bales, then the next cone, a bucket of water,” said Cameron, describing how the Funny Farm works.
“You’re starting and stopping your horses, getting to and from those cones, and I couldn’t get my horses to start an empty stone boat. They just weren’t working together so I chose to pull them out.”
Later in the evening Cameron and his team attempted the heavy horse pull where competitors have to pull a large, heavy stone boat that weighs 2,000 pounds, beginning with it empty and then adding 300 pounds of iron, going until you can no longer move the boat. A typical pull is 14 feet.
For this event, his team was more cooperative and got two full pulls in, something Cameron said he considered a success.
“I got them to move the boat, we did two full pulls, which made me happy as can be. That’s a monumental event for me. They went from not being able to do it, to doing it twice,” he said, adding his team pulled out after the second successful start.
After the Heavy Horse Pull the team moved onto the Log Skid event, where competitors drag a 16-foot log through a course of cones positioned 16 feet apart.
While Cameron was able to get his horses to start, he couldn’t get them to properly navigate the course.
“I chose just to use it as a learning experience and we went around the arena and did every second cone. It was baby steps for me. I got them to do it, but I was certainly not a competitor at that point,” he said. Despite the troubles he had competing, all in all Cameron said it was a good weekend as he was more concerned about the comradery than the actual competitions.
“I really enjoyed being there. I really enjoyed being around my friends and fellow teamsters,” he said.
“There was a lot of encouragement and support from them based on what happened with Max and starting two new horses together.”
Aside from the Novice Wagon Competition, Cameron also won a single-horse Meadowbrook cart after having his name pulled from a hat during the rodeo’s Friday night dinner, which came as the grand prize of the giveaway draw, so he also didn’t leave the rodeo empty-handed.
“Anything after that was just a bonus to me.”