The Lakeland alumna is the first professional female chuckwagon driver to purchase an official membership to the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association
(CPCA). When the horn sounds to kick off the 2019 CPCA season on May 31 in North Battleford, Sask., L’Heureux
will navigate the barrels as a trailblazer – the only woman to do so in the circuit’s six-decade history.
“I am excited to get racing. The pressure for me is that I don’t want to let anyone down,” says L’Heureux, Class of 2013 animal health technology
. “This is what I have been working towards for so long. I know if I put in the work and the dedication and keep everything rolling, it’ll be great. I just want to do everyone proud.”
Racing is a family affair for L’Heureux, whose journey to the CPCA started well before she could even walk. L’Heureux’s mother raced pony chariots, her father drove pony wagons and her grandfather competed too, and she was on the road with them by the time she was three months old. At the age of 14, L’Heureux picked up the reins to a small chariot and two ponies, and at 16 she raced pony chuckwagons. In 2014, L’Heureux became the first female chuckwagon driver to compete in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in Texas.
“It was something I always wanted to do,” says L’Heureux, who calls Glaslyn, Sask., home. “In Grade 3 or 4, we were asked to write down what we wanted to be when we grow up. I remember a lot of my friends wanted to be doctors or marine biologists, but I wrote how I wanted to be a chuckwagon driver. I find it funny now looking back at my aspirations in life and how they’ve come true.”
News of L’Heureux becoming a CPCA driver has garnered her media attention. From local newspapers to the Western Producer
, the 26-year-old says she’s taking it all in stride. “It’s exciting but I have been working at this for so long that I didn’t think it would be this big of a story, but it’s turning out to be,” she says.
From the stands, there will be no mistaking which wagon is L’Heureux’s. With her signature hot pink sparkly rig
, fans will be able to spot L’Heureux and cheer her on, which is something she doesn’t take lightly. “I remember being the little kid out there watching in the stands and looking up to everybody, and that for me is a lot of pressure. I want every little girl to know there is no limit to what they can do,” she says.
Clean and competitive is how L’Heureux plans to climb the CPCA standings, and it’s what she says will help her to reach her goal. “I would like to win Rookie of the Year – that’s my biggest goal, but you have to have little goals in order to get to the big ones,” she says. “Being a wagon driver is very much 80 per cent mental and 20 per cent physical because the horses are pulling the wagon. If you have your mental game on strong, then you have a pretty good footing to go out there.”
With her first season in the CPCA fast approaching, L’Heureux has a lot of work to do. Her own physical preparations include weight training and as a new driver she’s also working on sponsorship opportunities. Moreover, L’Heureux has 18 new horses to train. She finds herself drawing on some of the foundational knowledge – including nutrition and pharmacology – as well as the applied learning opportunities she had at Lakeland.
“Everything I learned at college was a building block for my training program. The instructors are wonderful and I can’t say enough good words about Lakeland – it was a great two years of my life. A lot of people thought it was crazy, but I raced both summers while I was in college,” says L’Heureux, who spent four years in the field as a veterinary technician after graduation.
“I have my dream job now because I went to Lakeland, worked as a tech and that opened the doors for so many things with my racing ultimately. It was a great part of what got me to where I am now.”
To keep track of L’Heureux’s racing news and for sponsorship information, visit pinkwagon.ca
Photos: In 2014, Amber L’Heureux became the first female chuckwagon driver to compete in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in Texas. She also competed in other races, including one St. Walburg, Sask., (pictured). As the first professional female chuckwagon driver to purchase an official membership to the CPCA, L'Heureux is excited to take on the half mile of hell and climb the standings. Photos courtesy of Just Enjoy Photography.