Investing in our people’s passions: Kolton Thiel represents Bothar on the chuckwagon circuit

During one of the earliest summers he can remember, four-year-old Kolton Thiel was thrown off his first horse Trotsky while trail riding with his family in Saskatchewan.

“I learned pretty quickly that horses were just as moody as humans,” laughs Kolton, who was unharmed by the incident. “I’ve been kicked a few times and even had to get stitches on my forehead, but I’ve learned a lot since then.”

Kolton, a microtunnelling contractor at Bothar, has been riding and raising horses his whole life. His family has a farm in Sherwood Park where they breed and train horses to compete in chuckwagon races all over Alberta.

Kolton Thiel in the All-Pro 2022 Tour

“We breed and train our horses differently than a team roper or a barrel racer would,” explains Kolton. “Chuckwagon horses run longer distances and need to have good lungs in them. They’re also not used to being ridden and might kick if you try to jump on their back,” he adds.

Kolton had his first taste of chuckwagon racing at 14 and was hooked. Starting on a smaller scale, he learned how to drive miniature ponies hitched to a chariot. Once he got the handle of the cart and reins, he had the opportunity to hone his new skills racing the chariot around the track during intermission of chuckwagon race events, giving him an earlier start than most riders.

Father and Son head-to-head in chuckwagon race
Kolton head-to-head with his Father Gary in Dawsons Creek - Dash for Cash Rodeo

Raising and training horses with his dad, Garry, was part of the reason Kolton began working at Bothar. Out of the three sons, Kolton was the most interested in racing and wanted to be closer to home to help out. Working at a site near the farm means he’s available evenings and weekends to pitch in, and even compete in a few races himself.

“I’ve always been passionate about horses and while my dad had high expectations for all of us, I really wanted to get better,” remembers Kolton. “A lot has changed since he started racing 35 years ago, and now that I’m older, we help each other raise the bar to keep doing better.”

From the kind of breed and feed to wagon safety mechanisms, Kolton has influenced a lot of the changes on the family farm. With a role model like his dad, Kolton’s commitment to excellence transcends into all aspects of his life, including how he shows up at work. In his role at Bothar, Kolton ensures protocols are followed to keep his team safe and equipment intact, and identifies opportunities of improvement to share with leaders. In the quick 11 months he’s worked at Bothar, he’s been grateful to the community and support he’s received from all levels of the company.

“When I first started, I thought I would have time for only a few races this season,” recalls Kolton. “But when Bothar sponsored my wagon, they also freed up my weekends so I could race all summer. It’s been really great for me, and fun to have some of my work mates come out to the races.”

With teamwork as a core value at Bothar, everyone is committed to learning, celebrating and supporting each other. Investing in people and their passions is one way Bothar cultivates a culture of camaraderie within the company and with clients all over North America. As industry leaders in trenchless construction, it’s our people that set us apart as trusted partners.

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Finishing 5th overall for the year, just after his Dad placing 4th in the circuit.