Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races marred by horse deaths

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CowboyCanada’s annual celebration of agriculture and western life is celebrating 100 years this week. But some animal welfare supporters are calling for an end to one of the Calgary Stampede’s signature events, the chuckwagon races.

During the races on the evening of Thursday, July 12, the lead horse in a four-horse team fell, bringing two other horses with him and sending the driver, Chad Harden, flying from the wagon. An outrider also fell when his horse slammed into the stopped wagon. Both humans were unhurt, but two horses were euthanized at the track due to their injuries and another was treated for injuries and is expected to recover. The first horse to fall was said to have experienced “a fatal event” of an unspecified nature.

“The outriding horse is an 18-year-old horse,” Harden explained to reporters through tears following the crash. “I’ve had him for 13 years. He’s part of our family. He was supposed to be my kids’ horse after this year.” 

After six horses died during the 2010 Calgary Stampede, organizers worked with veterinary and humane groups to put new safety measures in place. All horses are now inspected by veterinarians before and after every race, and drivers must give the horses mandatory rest days.

Many of the chuckwagon horses are off-the-track Thoroughbreds

The video below includes footage from the 2011 chuckwagon races provided by the Calgary Stampede.

According to the Vancouver Humane Society, more than 50 chuckwagon horses have died during the Calgary Stampede since 1986. The Vancouver Humane Society is one of several animal welfare groups calling for the end of the popular event.

The Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary continues through Sunday, July 15. For more information, visit CalgaryStampede.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. Through history horses have been right beside a human pulling wagons serving as a vehicle of transportation and as time progresses people have forgotten just that they are animals and YES I love them if the owners want to take the chance of them getting injured and killed it is THEIR decision I am so tired of groups coming in and telling others how and what to do with their animals. It is a sad situation and I am sure the owners wish it could have been preventes but what I got from the article is it wasn’t something that could of been prevented.

  2. I just watched the video. Oh my goodness, it looks like so much fun! I do this with single horses but I would love to try it with a team. I’m not sure about being so close to other drivers though. That’s where the danger seems to be coming in.

  3. That is so sad, I did read about it on the internet. I feel sorry for all the horses and anyone who witnessed it.

  4. Another example of deaths while competing. When a horse is killed, it’s usually during a competition. Rarely do you hear about a horse death when he and his rider is just having fun together on the trails or hanging out.

  5. This inhumane treatment of horses must be stopped.
    The death of these horses is a sad way to promote rodeo.
    The Calgary Stampede must take control over what they are condoning.
    Yes, Canada it’s time to stop this killing of our loved horses.

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