YORKTON - The racers with the Eastern Professional Chariot & Chuckwagon Association are beginning to get ready for the 2022 season.
Part of the annual preparation is to have their horses officially measured to ensure they qualify to run according to established rules.
The annual measuring took place in Yorkton Sunday at the Agripavilion.
Horses must measure 58.5 inches, or less, as they walk through an electronic measuring station, explained association vice-president Shayne Salmond, adding that is roughly 15 hands or less, at the withers.
Young horses, three and four year olds are given a temporary brand on a hoof if they qualify, said Salmond. The brand will ‘grow out’ over the year, and the horses will need to be measured next year, because they are still growing.
If a horse is five years old and qualifies, it is given a permanent cold brand and will not need to be measured in future years.
The measuring is recognized across all three prairie provinces allowing for inter-provincial racing.
Salmond said some 30 drivers would measure around 100 horses in Yorkton Sunday.
While being officially measured was the reason for the trip to the city, Salmond said horses are also sold at the event as young horses qualify to run and other drivers see them fitting into their needs when a deal can be made.
The drivers are also starting training at home, but the process has been delayed by the late spring, said Salmond, noting drivers often use dirt roads in their area for training and those are still under a lot of snow.
Racers are readying for a busy season. There are currently 18 races set, starting June 4 and 5 in Archerwill, and extending to Aug. 27 and 28 in Wadena, with the possibility of another weekend still be added in September, said Salmond.
“It’s approximately 50 days of racing,” he said.
With EPCCA races now set for as far afield as North Battleford and Prince Albert, Salmond said racers are going to feel the high cost of fuel in pursuit of their passion, but added several host events have increased prize money to help, and sponsorship is growing too.
“There seems like there is a lot of interest,” he said.