Load the stove and chase the chuckwagon, but not too close - that’s one of the jobs Quinn Langevin is performing as an outrider with the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA), competing this week at the Calgary Stampede.
Langevin is living his dream. “It’s a big adrenaline rush, I love the races, the horn sounding.”
He was raised on a farm near Virden where his parents Doyle and Jody Langevin own chariot ponies and where riding was an everyday event for Quinn. Now, he’s an outrider in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) circuit and riding in the Calgary Stampede this week is certainly a high point.
This young man is a third generation chuckwagon competitor whose grandfather Dennis Langevin was the 1983 WPCA Top Rookie Driver. His uncle Dallas Langevin drove on both the WCPA and CPCA circuits.
Quinn also drove chuckwagon ponies for six years. There’s no outriders for these wagons pulled by horses under 15 hands high (HH). Now, at 20, he’s on to bigger and faster chuckwagons with two outriders accompanying.
On the WPCA circuit the wagons are pulled by thoroughbreds, “huge horses” says Langevin. “The one horse that I ride for Wade Salmond is 17 hands.”
It’s important to get off to a good start. The stove is loaded into the back of the wagon when the horn goes while the other outrider calms the lead horses, making sure the outfit is lined up and ready to run. Langevin has done both these jobs.
He was initially hired on as a stable hand with Troy Dorchester, a champion chuckwagon driver. Last summer he made his debut as an outrider behind Dorchester at the 2018 Strathmore Stampede and has continued to ride behind him in the 2019 season.
He describes his favourite mount as a little white-faced chestnut named LG. “Troy raised him to be an outriding horse. I was just starting.” LG was his morning ride.
Riding as often as he can he’s also ridden with drivers as well such as Wade Salmand, Mark Sutherland and Luke Tournier. His mother Jody explains, “He’s getting recognized as riding well. So some of the top guys have asked him.”
It was in High River this June where Langevin won his first Championship Buckle, riding for three-time 2019 winner, Doug Irvine.
“I got lucky enough to ride behind a good driver,” says Langevin. Outriders are key to the success of the team and the opportunity to ride at this level is achieved by a record of riding clean – not incurring penalties.
“You want to be as clean a rider as possible,” he says. “But if you’re missing your jump and taking a penalty, you’ll get cut.” There are a few ways to get a penalty – knocking a barrel, mounting too early, etc. Even crossing the finish line, the outrider has to be within 150 feet behind the wagon.
Langevin’s family follows his rides, travelling to all the events they can. His parents, grandparents, and three little sisters came to see him at Saskatoon. His younger brother, Ryder, has started to drive chuckwagon ponies as well.
Saturday, July 13 will be the telling day when the top four times out of two heats go on to the Championship Dash for Cash at the Calgary Stampede.