Heavy Weight Division of the Heavy Horse Pull. It came down to the wire but the heaviest horses won.Lumsden, Saskatchewan’s teamster Ron Sebastian and his horses Mark and Jeff hooked their way to a big win at the 2019 Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse Pull in the Heavy Weight Division Sunday night with a 13,000 lbs full pull, edging out Randy Dodge of Albany, Oregon who capped off with a 73” pull at 13,000 lbs.

And the Sebastian team almost broke the heavyweight record of 13,300 lbs, too. “My heart is in a flutter, I have to take it easy for a few minutes,” he said after attempting a new heavy weight record with a 13,400 lbs pull, falling short of a full pull.

“I thought I may as well go for the record at my age. Thought maybe I would get lucky. It was kind of a bad spot but I wanted to try it.” Sebastian’s horses, Mark and Jeff, weighed the most in the division at 4,596 lbs, and the duo made 11 pulls together.

“They’re still young and I love them. Mark is kind of a cheater, but tonight he overlooked everything and put out all he could.” In the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull, teams in three weight classes pull weighted sleds — up to more than five times the horse’s body weight — up to 14 feet, known as a “full pull.” The Grand Champion in each class receives $3,000; the Reserve Champion $2,500, with a sliding scale of payouts for the rest of the field.

There were eight competitors total in the Heavy Weight Division that took place Sunday in the Western Nutrien Event Centre. The full competition with classes for Light, Middle and Heavy Weights were spread over three nights. Sebastian has been in the industry for 40 years and has 19 championship wins under his belt. In fact, he’s hoping to make it 20 in 2020, though he will have to go through Sunday’s Reserve Champion and perennial contender, Dodge, who has won the heavyweight class 16 times.

“Randy is probably one of the best in north America and the young guy Curtis, he is right there, too,” Sebastian added. Dodge was equally complimentary of Sebastian. “Ron’s tough, he’s always tough. He’s got good horses and they’re well kept; he’s a good teamster,” Dodge said, after collecting his Reserve Champion ribbon.

“It feels good. For the Calgary Stampede, the top three or top four is always really good here. That’s the biggest crowd I’ve seen in there.” Ironically, it was Dodge who finished as Grand Champion on Saturday in the Middle Weight Division and Sebastian who placed as Reserve Champion. Dodge finished with a full pull at 12,000 lbs while Sebastian finished with 133” at the 12,000 lbs weight.

On Friday, Travis house of Wheatland, North Dakota took the Lightweight Division with an 11,000 lbs 99” pull.

Chuckwagon races. During the chuckwagon races on Sunday, July 14, the right lead horse on the wagon of Evan Salmond sustained a running injury. An immediate veterinary assessment determined the horse had a fractured left hind cannon bone. As a result of that event, two other horses on the wagon team sustained serious injuries. They were cared for immediately on the track and we are saddened to report that the veterinary medical team determined there was no option for treatment. All three horses were euthanized.

The Calgary Stampede issued this statement: "This is as upsetting to us as it is to our community, and is challenging for us. The Stampede’s commitment to the safety of animals and the conditions of their participation in our events is paramount to our values and brand integrity. We will continue to be open in our communication with our community.

"In light of these events, we are committed to initiating a thorough review process surrounding chuckwagon safety. At this time we don’t know what form that process will take, and we ask for your patience and understanding."