Chanse Vigen outriding in a chuckwagon race.

A story of bravery and its recoginition

Honouring Chance Vigen for bravery during chuckwagon races.

Submitted by Jack Spink

On July 7, 2007, like so many other people, I was watching the television coverage of the Calgary Stampede.

During the ninth heat of the chuckwagon races, I watched an act of bravery and heroism that had me on the edge of my seat.

For readers who may not be aware of what happened that day, here I explain: After the wagons and outriders had completed the figure-8 in the infield, and were heading into the first corner, two of the wagons bumped into each other, knocking one of the drivers, Tyler Helmig, out of his wagon. Tyler ended up uninjured, but now there was a runaway chuckwagon on the track, being pulled by four thoroughbreds, running at a full gallop.

These animals are bred to run, and if not stopped or turned, they would simply keep on running possibly right in the fence at the corner of the track, thereby injuring (or killing) themselves and possibly causing a major wreck with one or more of the other three wagons on the track in that race.

In addition, there were some 16 outriders on horseback in the race as well. Young outrider Chanse Vigen was one of them riding for another team, but he witnessed what had happened, and thinking quickly, he chose to disregard his own safety to try to stop this wreck before it happened.

Running at a full gallop, he jumped off the back of his horse and into the back of the runaway chuckwagon. His idea was to work his way to the front of the wagon and get a hold of the reins and thus bring the horses to a stop. However, it turns out that when Tyler was knocked out of the wagon, he was holding onto the reins, and so when Chanse got to them, they were dragging off the ground.

Undeterred, he knew that he would have to do something else to stop this potential disaster, and quickly. So, what did he do? Again, with his only thought to stopping this team, he stepped over the front of the wagon box and onto the pole that runs between the horses. He managed to slowly inch his way along the steel pole until he was able to climb aboard one of the back (wheeler) horses. From this position, he was able to bring the team to a stop, thus averting a disaster. After watching his actions, I thought that Chanse deserved some form of recognition for his brave actions.

After some research, I contacted the Federal Government and submitted his name to the Office of the Governor General along with the facts of his actions. Chanse was awarded a certificate, signed by the then Governor General Michaelle Jean with the following inscription:

“A commendation is awarded to Chanse Vigen for an act of great merit in providing assistance to others in a selfless manner in Calgary, Alberta, on July 14, 2007.”

I was very pleased that Chanse’s actions were recognized.

 

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