Media Release

Horse fatality prompts renewed calls for an end to Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/WeAnimals Media

VANCOUVER, July 15, 2022 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling on the Calgary Stampede and Calgary City Council to remove the chuckwagon races from the Stampede program following the death of a chuckwagon horse during yesterday’s event. 

According to a release by the Stampede, a horse sustained an injury during the fourth heat of the chuckwagon races on July 14th and had to be euthanized. This follows the deaths of six horses in 2019, when the chuckwagon races were last held prior to the pandemic. More than 70 chuckwagon horses have died since the VHS started tracking deaths in 1986. 

“There’s a reason why the chuckwagon races are dubbed the half-mile of hell,” says VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett. “The fact that horses die nearly every year in this event illustrates this.” 

The VHS points to the structure of the chuckwagon event as inherently dangerous due to the high speed of the race and the close proximity of the horses and wagons to each other, which also presents a risk of creating a chain reaction if one horse falls or is injured. The VHS also cites concerns around the use of thoroughbred race horses in the event; animal Scientist Temple Grandin has noted that thoroughbreds are often overbred for speed rather than skeletal strength, making their legs susceptible to injury. 

“The chuckwagon horse fatalities at the Calgary Stampede can no longer be called ‘unpreventable’. We know exactly what would prevent them; removing the chuckwagon races, which have caused the deaths of horses nearly every year.” 

The VHS is also calling for an end to calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling and bucking events at the Calgary Stampede, noting that the events rely on the use of fear, stress and pain to make the animals perform for public entertainment.The VHS has filed cruelty complaints to the Calgary Humane Society regarding two concerning incidents witnessed on Sportsnet coverage of this year’s Stampede rodeo, including an incident in which a horse in a bucking event was repeatedly struck in the face when the animal was reluctant to leave the chute. In another incident during a steer wrestling event, a steer’s neck was twisted by the competitor until the animal fell to the ground, landing awkwardly on his hind leg. Moments later the steer was seen limping. 

“Public polling shows that the majority of Canadians oppose the use of animals in rodeos,” said Pickett. “It’s time for the Calgary Stampede to move away from dangerous and inhumane events that pose a risk to animals and to instead focus on the many alternative activities that already attract hundreds of thousands of attendees every year.”  

The VHS has teamed up with concerned Calgarians to draw attention to animal welfare issues at the Stampede’s chuckwagon races and rodeo events through a collaborative project, The Rodeo Truth website includes a #SayNoToRodeo pledge, which more than 2,100 people have already signed to indicate their opposition to animal performances at the Stampede. 

– ends –

SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

For more information, contact Emily Pickett: 604-416-2903,

Related links:
Related files: