Chariot Racing by Margaret Slaugh

CHARIOT RACING

 

I had the pleasure of sitting in on an interview with my father-in law, Clyde Slaugh, his friends, Earl Fix, Clayton Karren, Tuffy Sheridan, and Don Wade at their morning coffee place in the Rangely District Hospital Cafeteria. As Clyde told his version of events and stories Earl, Clayton and Don would confirm time periods or events. While sitting with them I witnessed them harass the doctors, the staff, each other and just about anyone going by.  I was curious about the chariot racing that took place in the early 1970's.  As a kid I remember watching the chariot races at the 4th of July Range Call rodeos in Meeker along with the wild cow milking contests, the pony express race and the ranch rodeos. There were no PRCA rodeos involved at that time. The early rodeos were some interesting rodeos. They were fun to watch and had lots of action.

Clyde Slaugh and Ben Steele, photo courtesy of Margaret Slaugh

Clyde Slaugh and Ben Steele, photo courtesy of Margaret Slaugh

Some of the Rangely locals spent the winter months from about 1970 to 1974 racing chariots and the summers were filled the Rangely Jr. Saddle Club, team ropings and chasingwild horses.  Clyde told a story of someone giving him a wild stsud horse.  They had taken it out to the Company Corrals out in the Chevron Field and left it for him to go get.  He had a stock rack in the back of his truck and proceeded to load the horse in the truck to take to his horse corrals. The horse kicked his window out of the truck.  Clyde got the horse into the barn and it kicked the window out of the barn and escaped through the window.  He was pretty mad by this time so he went to the house, got his gun and headed back to the corral.  A station wagon with a bunch of kids pulled up and inquired what he was going to do.  He told them he was going to shoot that horse.  The mother of the kids, Kay Nickson, just recently having moved to town said that was the most beautiful horse and could they have it.  Of course he agreed just glad to get rld of it. He went back a week or two later and they had the horse tamed down, riding it, crawling all over it and it turned out to be one of the best horses around.

 

The definition of Chariot Racing:

a light, two-wheeled vehicle for one person, usually drawn by two horses and driven from a standing position, used in ancient Egypt,Greece, Rome, etc., in warfare, racing, hunting, etc.

 

Clyde Slaugh and Ben Steele, photo courtesy of Margaret Slaugh

Clyde Slaugh and Ben Steele, photo courtesy of Margaret Slaugh

There were 10 teams of Chariot racers that participated in the sport. Starting in about 1970 going through 1973 or 1974.   The chariots were made out of 50 gallon barrels cut in half with motorcycle tires for the wheels.  The local group including brothers Roy and Ben Steele, Clyde Slaugh, Dean Anderson, Herschel Covington, Lowell Levitt.  They used just about any horse available at the time to pull the chariots with.  They would use wild horses or borrow someone's if they were short a horse.  My husband, Dennis says they eventually used Thoroughbred horses that had race on the race track which makes them pretty high strung and high spirited.  They even had a run away or two. They raced for 1/4 mile and I guess once they pull a chariot some of the horses knew when the race is over and would slow down naturally stop at the end.  They got some horses from a guy out of Steamboat and some were bought or traded for from the Roosevelt or Duchesne area which were pretty good stock.  If one of the horses was not as fast as the other one that horse would more than likely get the buggy whip to try and make it keep up.  You had to know how to read the horses or the horse with an explosive temperament would blow up.

 

Clyde says the Roosevelt and Duchesne area was chariot racing 3 to 4 years before Rangely started.  There wasn't any money in it and that is why they eventually quit and continued with the Rangely Jr. Saddle Club, putting on gymkhanas, team roping, horse racing, and chasing wild horses.  There was a guy from Tremonton Utah that raised Shetland ponies and traveled with them putting on a Little Buckaroo Rodeo for the kids.  The Little Buckaroo rodeo included Bareback riding, a Polo game played from the Shetlands with broom sticks for hockey sticks, bull riding, calf roping just to name a few.  The adults played along with the kids from the Shetlands.  Shetlands are well known for the mean, ornery temperament and are considered one of the smartest of horse.

Dean Anderson and Clyde Slaugh photo courtesy of Margaret Slaugh

Dean Anderson and Clyde Slaugh photo courtesy of Margaret Slaugh

 

The Rangely Jr. Saddle Club was in existence when Clyde moved to Rangely.  It was just natural for him to eventually take over the club having three boys of his own.  At one time there were approximately 70 kids participating in the club..  If they didn't have a horse of their own they were either given a wild horse, rode double, or borrowed a horse. Kenneth Kenney had a place up Spring Creek which the group would ride from town 15 or 20 miles to the ranch to spend a week. Kids would be strung out for miles. The girls stayed in the main house and the boys in the bunk house.  Dennis tells of there being a pond and them playing a game similar to tug a war or king of the horses.  They would pull each other off the horses into the water.  No one really got hurt considering the rough housing that went on.

 

These events included the whole family.  The wives didn't participate in the events so much as keeping things running smooth and rustling kids, putting on barbeques, etc.  However the women did have horses of their own and did ride and participated in the gymkhana's.  It was good clean fun and kept the kids out of trouble.