As the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Assocation (CPCA) comes to North Battleford this weekend, one chuckwagon driver will be making history. Amber L’Heureux is set to be the first female chuckwagon driver in the association’s sixty-year tenure. To her, it’s a dream she’s been looking forward too since she was a young girl, and she’s looking forward to the race.
“It’s just something I’ve been looking forward too since I was young. For me, I’m excited to get out there and compete, and everyone else’s hype about it is pretty exciting. I’m excited about it,” says L’Heureux.
Coming from Glaslyn, Sask., racing chuckwagons is something L’Heureux calls a family affair. Her dad ran pony chuckwagons for fifty years, while her mom drove pony chariots. Her grandfather drove thoroughbred chariots close to thirty years ago. Racing is in her blood; L’Heureux began driving pony chariots at 14-years-old, before moving up to pony chuckwagons at 16.
Growing up, L’Heureux participated in various equine-related activities like 4-H and barrel racing. Last summer she sanctioned and passed her test to race with the CPCA. L’Heureux says it’s a surreal experience to be achieving something she’s always dreamed of and worked her life towards.
“It’s something I’ve cemented my life around, from what I’ve gone to school for and what I’ve done life experience wise. To finally be where you are at one of your major goals at 26 years old is pretty neat, I guess.”
She has 14 horses that have been in training since the end of March. On a personal level, L’Heureux is aiming to have no disadvantage as a woman entering a male-dominated sport. She’s been weightlifting and active most of her life, and this year she’s started her training a few months earlier to prepare herself. L’Heureux is ready for her time to shine and is thankful for all the support.
“Growing up, it wasn’t the cool thing to be the kid that messed around with horses every weekend when everyone else was going out partying. You kind of just did your own thing and kept driving at it because you knew what you wanted to do. Now that everyone’s got their eye on it, it’s this super neat thing. The perspective has changed, and I’m still trying to absorb it.”
Wagons are expected to race all weekend. Friday’s and Saturday’s begin at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday’s begins at 2 p.m.