Horse death and rodeo cruelty concerns prompt call for change at Calgary Stampede

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media

Annual Calgary Stampede wraps up, but not without cruelty and controversy

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), concerned Calgarians and animal advocates across Canada are continuing to call for an end to the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede. This comes after a horse was euthanized following a traumatic injury in the chuckwagon races and two other incidents during a bucking event and steer wrestling event prompted cruelty complaints.

The VHS issued a media release following the inhumane handling of a horse during the bucking event and steer in the wrestling event, as well as the death of the horse in the chuckwagon race. The VHS is calling on the Calgary Stampede and Calgary City Council to remove the chuckwagon races and rodeo events from the Stampede program. 


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Horse fatality during chuckwagon race

According to a release by the Stampede, a horse sustained an injury during the fourth heat of the chuckwagon races on Thursday, July 14th, and was euthanized.

A witness to the incident said that the injured horse fell and was subsequently trampled by the wagon. They described it as pure chaos, with Stampede staff surrounding the injured horse with tarps, to prevent the public from seeing what was taking place.

More than 70 horses have been killed in the chuckwagon races since the VHS started tracking fatalities in 1986. In the last two decades, there have only been 3 years in which the races did not result in horse fatalities: 2003, 2004, and 2016. The last year the chuckwagon races were held in 2019, six horses were killed.

Cruelty during bucking and wrestling events

The VHS also filed cruelty reports to the Calgary Humane Society regarding two other incidents that occurred at the Stampede this year.

1. Horse struck in the face during saddle bronc event

The first incident happened during a bucking event, in which a horse was repeatedly struck in the face when the animal was reluctant to leave the chute.

Footage: Recording of Sportsnet coverage

2. Steer seen limping after landing on hind leg

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. 

Footage: Recording of Sportsnet coverage

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