Advocacy continues after horse death at Calgary Stampede

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media.

This year’s Calgary Stampede once again ended in tragedy with the death of a horse in Friday’s chuckwagon event. The fatal incident brings the total number of animal deaths at the Calgary Stampede to 105, including 75 chuckwagon horses, since the VHS began tracking fatalities in 1986.

In addition to Friday’s devastating incident, the VHS documented rough handling and signs of stress in animals throughout the rodeo events. Watch and share the videos below to help raise awareness of the routine suffering that animals experience during rodeo events. 

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Watch & share the videos:

The above video outlines the many animal welfare concerns that arose at this year’s Calgary Stampede, including the tragic death of a horse used in the chuckwagon races.

Much work is needed to change public sentiment on the suffering of animals in rodeos. When the above video was shared on TikTok, several rodeo supporters commented that they saw “nothing wrong” with the handling of the animals. Hours later, the video was removed from the platform for violating their policy on animal abuse. This inhumane treatment is not simply an unfortunate accident in the rodeo industry—it is considered acceptable and expected as an inherent part of the events.

Please share these videos to help others see how animals suffer in rodeos and support a wider movement away from supporting inhumane animal events.

Take the #SayNoToRodeo pledge

61% of Canadians are opposed to the use of animals in rodeo. Take the #SayNoToRodeo pledge, which will be shared with decision-makers to reflect public opposition to inhumane rodeo events.

Call for a ban on inhumane rodeo events in your community

Some communities, including the City of Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, and Port Moody, have municipal bylaws in place to prohibit inhumane rodeo events and practices. Call on your city council to follow this lead by implementing a bylaw in your community! 

Media Release

Vancouver Humane Society raises welfare concerns after three horse deaths at Hastings Racecourse 

VANCOUVER, August 10, 2023 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is once again speaking out against the use of animals in entertainment after recent reports that three horses lost their lives and another was injured in two weeks at Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse.

A five-year-old horse named One Fifty One was euthanized due to an unrecoverable injury sustained during a race on July 16. On July 22, a three-year-old horse named Lent Me Twenty fell backward prior to a race at The Cup and died. A four-year-old horse named Memorandum was euthanized after sustaining an injury in a July 30 race. 

“It’s heartbreaking, but unfortunately not surprising, to hear of horses losing their lives at these events,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault. “Horses’ lives are put at risk each time they step on the track.”  

The VHS pointed out that the stressful, high-speed nature of the races poses inherent welfare concerns. Experts have noted that thoroughbreds are often overbred for speed rather than skeletal strength, making their legs susceptible to injury. The events also use painful tools like bits and whips to control horses’ movements.  

“Unlike human athletes, horses are not given the choice whether to participate and their short careers are marked by fear,” said Archambault.   

Research shows that horses who begin high-intensity activities like racing at a young age have been found to have high rates of injury, and to decline and retire quickly. One study found that during the training and racing of two-year-old racehorses, 85% suffered at least one incident of injury or disease. Another found that of the horses that began racing at two or three years of age, only 46% were still racing two years later.   

When they are retired, typically around four to six years old, horses who can no longer generate a profit are at risk of being sent to auction. There, unwanted horses are sold to the highest bidder including horsemeat buyers.  

Archambault noted, “When we use animals for entertainment, we’re seeing them as objects rather than the sentient beings that they are. These incidents show once again that the safety and well-being of horses is not adequately taken into account.”  

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society   

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903, 

Media Release

The VHS calls for an end to Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races after horse death

Vancouver, July 15, 2023 — The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is again calling on Calgary Stampede organizers and Calgary City Council to remove the chuckwagon races from the Stampede program, following the death of a horse during Friday’s event.

The horse sustained an injury during the seventh heat of the chuckwagon races and was subsequently euthanized. 75 horses used in the chuckwagon races have died at the Calgary Stampede since the VHS started tracking fatalities in 1986, including two since the Stampede recently changed the structure of the event from four wagons per heat to three.

“The reality is that despite efforts over the years to make the event safer, horses continue to die nearly every year in the chuckwagon races,” said VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett. “The nature of this event means that any race could quickly turn fatal.”

In fact, in the last two decades, there have only been three years in which the races did not result in horse fatalities: 2003, 2004, and 2016.

The VHS pointed to the structure of the chuckwagon races, which are dubbed ‘the half-mile of hell’, as inherently dangerous. The high speed of the race and the close proximity of the horses and wagons to each other presents a risk of creating a chain reaction if one horse falls or is injured. Furthermore, experts have raised concerns about the use of thoroughbred horses as they are often overbred for speed rather than skeletal strength, making their legs susceptible to injury.

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 discomfort to make the animals flee and buck for sake of public entertainment.

“Public polling shows that a majority of Canadians oppose the use of animals in rodeos,” said Pickett.

Another public poll of Calgarians conducted during last year’s Stampede found removal of the rodeo and chuckwagon events from the Stampede program would have virtually no impact on attendance rates and would bring in new crowds.

“It’s time for the Calgary Stampede to move away from these dangerous and inhumane events and to instead focus on the many alternative events and activities that already attract hundreds of thousands of attendees to the Stampede every year,” added Pickett.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society  

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903,


#SayNoToRodeo at the Calgary Stampede

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur \ We Animals Media.

The controversial rodeo and deadly chuckwagon races are returning for this year’s Calgary Stampede, scheduled from July 7-16.

Learn more and take action to help protect animals from inhumane treatment and suffering in rodeos. 

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Take the #SayNoToRodeo pledge

61% of Canadians are opposed to the use of animals in rodeo. Take the #SayNoToRodeo pledge to reflect your opposition to the inhumane treatment of animals in rodeo events.  

Follow & share “Rodeo Truth

Check out for more information about the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede. This public awareness project is a collaboration between the Vancouver Humane Society and concerned Calgarians.  

To keep spreading the word about why the Calgary Stampede should buck inhumane animal events, follow Rodeo Truth on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok and share the posts. 

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Deadly history

The Calgary Stampede’s rodeo and chuckwagon races have a deadly history, with more than 100 animal deaths since the VHS started tracking incidents in 1986. 

Last year, a horse was euthanized following a traumatic injury during the chuckwagon races; a horse in a bucking event was repeatedly struck in the face when the animal was reluctant to leave the chute; and a steer appeared injured during a wrestling event, when the steer’s neck was twisted by the competitor until the animal fell to the ground. He landed awkwardly on his hind leg and was seen limping away moments later. 

Animal welfare concerns

Rodeo events like bucking, roping, wrestling, and mutton busting are inherently inhumane. They rely on the use of fear, stress, and discomfort (e.g. spurs, flank straps, rough handling) to make animals perform and put them at unnecessary risk of injury and death for sake of public entertainment.  

Animals demonstrate visible signs of stress during rodeo events, including when their eyes roll back to show more of the white of their eyes, excessive salivation, and urination and defecation. Research demonstrates that calves experience acute stress and negative emotional states when chased and roped. 

These events are fundamentally at odds with how we should be handling and treating animals. In fact, they contradict industry requirements and best practices for the handling of farmed animals, which state that quiet handling techniques must be used and that abusive handling is unacceptable. If these same practices were used on farms, they would not be allowed.  

Growing public opposition

Public polling shows that a majority of Canadians are opposed to the use of animals in rodeo. Another poll indicates that removal of the rodeo and chuckwagon events from the Calgary Stampede program would have virtually no impact on attendance rates and would bring in new crowds. There are many other activities and events at the Calgary Stampede that can be enjoyed without putting animals in harm’s way. 

A pie graph indicating 61% on a background of a hand holding a rope used for rodeo

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Media Release

The future of the Stampede is rodeo-free, according to polling of Calgary residents

VANCOUVER, July 27, 2022 – Removal of the rodeo and chuckwagon events from the Calgary Stampede program would have virtually no impact on attendance rates and would bring in new crowds, according to a Research Co. poll commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) during this year’s Stampede.

64% of Calgarians polled indicated that they had attended or were likely to attend the Stampede this year. When asked whether they would attend the Stampede if the rodeo and chuckwagon racing events were removed, 63% indicated they would be likely to attend.

“Until now, we’ve assumed that the Stampede has continued to host inhumane events out of financial motivation,” VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett shared. “These poll results prove that removing the rodeo and chuckwagons would have little impact on visitor attendance.”

The polling results also indicated that the removal of controversial animal events would pique the interest of new crowds, with 24% of non-attendees from this year expressing interest in attending the Stampede without rodeo and chuckwagon events. Of these, the most prominent change was in the youngest group polled; 43% of non-attendees from this year aged 18-34 said they would be likely to attend the Stampede if the rodeo and chuckwagon races were removed.

“We have heard from many people who avoid the Stampede because of the rodeo and chuckwagon races. Dropping those events is a sustainable change that would attract new supporters and visitors to the Stampede,” Pickett noted.

The support for a rodeo- and chuckwagon-free Stampede draws attention to the 103 animals who have died at the Stampede since the VHS began tracking incidents in 1986, including a chuckwagon horse who was injured and consequently euthanized at this year’s event. The VHS filed cruelty complaints to the Calgary Humane Society regarding incidents captured in Sportsnet coverage of 2022 rodeo events.

“These high-risk and inhumane events draw growing public criticism year after year. It’s time for Stampede officials and Calgary City Council to remove these unnecessary events from the Stampede program.”

Pickett invited anyone wishing to learn more about the animal welfare issues surrounding rodeo to visit, an informational website made in collaboration by the VHS and concerned Calgarians.

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SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

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

Related links:

Take the #SayNoToRodeo pledge:


End inhumane rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede


Though the chuckwagon races did not proceed in 2021 due to time-sensitive safety concerns, Stampede organizers have not committed to removing this dangerous event or the three concerning rodeo events highlighted by 5,354 animal supporters. Please stay tuned for future actions to address cruel events at the Calgary Stampede.

UPDATE – July 26, 2021

A horse was euthanized this weekend following a chuckwagon race in Red Deer, Alberta.

This comes after the Calgary Stampede cancelled their 2021 chuckwagon races due to safety concerns surrounding the lack of a practice season during COVID-19.

The chuckwagon races always pose a risk to horses because of the fast pace of the event and the proximity of wagons and horses on the track. There are also concerns about the use thoroughbred horses in chuckwagon racing, which tend to be bred for speed rather than skeletal strength. This puts them at greater risk of serious injury and euthanization.

The horse who was euthanized this weekend was diagnosed with a muscular-skeletal injury after the accident.

The loss was tragic and preventable.

Please call on the Calgary Stampede to extend their suspension of the chuckwagon races until an independent review by animal experts can determine if they can be made safer.

The majority of Canadians are opposed to rodeo; so why does a Canadian event marketing itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” continue to host rodeo events?

59% of Canadians are opposed to using animals in rodeo, and yet the Calgary Stampede continues to host cruel rodeo events year after year that cause animal suffering, stress, and even death. It is clear to most people that twisting a steer’s neck until he falls down or stretching him by the neck and hind legs so he is suspended above the ground is inhumane, but these activities are carried out for the sake of so-called entertainment in the form of steer wrestling and team roping every year.

Watch: The cruel reality of calf roping

The cruel reality of calf roping

This is calf roping, an event held at rodeos including the Calgary Stampede.Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an animal-friendly, family-fr…

Perhaps the most obviously cruel event is calf roping (also known as tie-down roping), where a calf who is just three months old—long before the age she should even be weaned from her mother—is tormented or “goaded” in a chute leading from a holding pen to the rodeo arena, so that she bursts out at a high speed as soon as the gate opens. Then, as she runs into a ring at around 27 miles per hour, the confused calf is roped around the neck by a rider and jerked to a sudden stop. The rider will then jump to the ground and quickly tie three of the calf’s legs together as she struggles to break free.

Animals used for calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping can and have sustained injuries during these events that cost them their lives.

Photos of the events make it clear that these animals also experience pain and stress while being roped and roughly handled. Recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

Another major event at the Calgary Stampede is the chuckwagon races, which has been dubbed the “half mile of hell” by organizers and participants. The races involve several teams of horses pulling wagons in a figure eight course and racing down a track at high speed to the finish line. This dangerous event has caused more than 70 horse deaths since 1986—mainly due to crash injuries and heart attacks brought on by stress. Though the event has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, organizers have announced a plan to resume the event in 2022.

Watch: The Chuckwagon races, the Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

The Chuckwagon races: The Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

These are the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races, which have caused over 70 horse deaths since 1986. Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an ani…

What has been done to stop these events?

Thanks to the hard work of Vancouver Humane Society’s supporters and other animal rights advocates, some progress has been made in past years in an attempt to reduce animal injuries at the Calgary Stampede. The number of wagons in the chuckwagon races was reduced from four to three following the deaths of six horses in 2019; it remains to be seen whether this measure alone will make the “half mile of hell” any safer for horses.

Up to this point, progress toward making the Stampede more animal-friendly and family-friendly has been slow and hard-won. A serious change by the Calgary Stampede is long overdue to make this fair one that truly represents the values of Canadians.

What’s next?

The Vancouver Humane Society is calling on Calgary Stampede Interim CEO Dana Peers to remove three of the fair’s most inhumane rodeo events: calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping. The cancellation of the 2021 chuckwagon races also offers an opportunity to employ an independent review by experts (i.e. veterinarians, animal behaviourists, equine specialists) to determine whether or not this event can be made safer in future years. If the Calgary Stampede wishes to be the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, it must stop causing animal suffering and leave these events where they belong: in the past.

Take action to end inhumane rodeo events!

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5,354 people used this tool to send an email to decision-makers. Thank you for taking action!

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Too soon to say that Stampede chuckwagon race is safer


Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

VHS and animal advocates across Canada are relieved and pleased that no animal deaths were reported at this year’s Calgary Stampede.

The Stampede says that safety measures it implemented for its chuckwagon race have had an impact.  We hope that is the case, but in fact it’s too soon to say.

There have been three years since 1986 in which there were no animal deaths at the Stampede (1993, 1998, 2003) yet animals continued to die in the intervening years.  Only when a sustained pattern is established, with consecutive years free of animal deaths, will it be clear that the safety improvements have worked.  (It should also be noted that there was a near-disaster in this year’s race when a chuckwagon flipped over, tossing the driver to the ground.)

Agrifair RodeoIt’s also important to note that the safety measures the Stampede has introduced this year, and in previous years, have only come about because of the attention that VHS has drawn to the chuckwagon race and rodeo events.

The resulting media and public pressure have forced the Stampede to take action, although they are unlikely to admit that is the case.

VHS’s supporters and animal advocates who have spoken out across the country should be proud that they have helped hold the Calgary Stampede’s management accountable for the safety of the animals it uses.

But no one should forget that, despite the fact no animals died this year, many animals continue to suffer in the rodeo events.  VHS’s focus is, and always has been, on cruel events such as calf-roping and steer-wrestling – which we have asked the Stampede to ban.

calf roping040522Rodeo082cropresizeRodeo animals are subjected to fear, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment.  That is unethical and unacceptable. Three-month-old calves continue to be chased, roped, tied up and thrown to the ground.  Steers continue to have their necks twisted until they fall to the ground.  Bulls and horses continue to have bucking straps tightened around their hindquarters to make them buck.  All this to amuse a crowd.

Until animal suffering is eliminated from the Stampede and other rodeos, VHS will continue to oppose these events.  We will continue to draw public attention to the plight of rodeo animals and we will always speak out on their behalf.

It is only public pressure that will force rodeos to take animal welfare seriously. Our supporters have been instrumental in creating that pressure and we thank all of you for standing up for rodeo animals.  You are making a difference.





animal welfare cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo

CBC used false information to defend Calgary Stampede

Calf-roping at the Calgary Stampede. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur


The CBC has been using false information in its responses to concerns about animal welfare at the Calgary Stampede and the CBC’s coverage of the Stampede’s rodeo and chuckwagon races.

In emails to members of the public, the CBC falsely stated that the Alberta SPCA works with the Calgary Stampede and is on-site monitoring events.  The Alberta SPCA has denied that this is the case.

People who have emailed the CBC to complain about its Stampede rodeo broadcasts have been receiving an email response from CBC which states that:

“…Stampede organizers are committed to providing the highest standard of animal care and safeguarding animal welfare. To that end, the organization works with the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta SPCA. Both groups are on-site monitoring events, and all competing animals are under constant veterinary care and attention throughout the Stampede.”

But when one complainant checked with the Alberta SPCA to see if this was true, she received a reply from the society’s communications manager stating:

“Thank you for contacting me about this email. I will be contacting the CBC to correct its public messages, because the Alberta SPCA doesn’t “work with” the Stampede, and we don’t send officers to monitor Stampede events…”

The complainant’s email from the CBC can be seen here and the email from the Alberta SPCA here.


Yesterday, the Alberta SPCA tweeted a statement confirming that it does not work with the Stampede or monitor rodeo events:

Capture albera spca

The CBC has tweeted an apology saying “it wasn’t our place to speak for the Alberta SPCA or Calgary Stampede.” But the tweet did not address why the CBC was distributing misinformation about the Alberta SPCA’s animal welfare role at the Stampede.

It is not known how many complainants received CBC emails containing the false information.

VHS has an online petition calling on the CBC to stop broadcasting rodeo cruelty at the Stampede.  Also see our related article in the Huffington Post.








animal welfare compassion cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo

Why is animal lover Jann Arden promoting the Calgary Stampede?

Bucking horse at Calgary Stampede. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur
Bucking horse at Calgary Stampede. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

Let Jann Arden know that rodeo is cruel – see actions below.

Singer Jann Arden, long known as an animal lover, has been named as a joint-parade marshall for the Calgary Stampede parade, the event that kicks off the ten-day rodeo, fair and chuckwagon races.

The announcement is a surprise, given Arden’s previously stated opposition to the chuckwagon races, shown in this tweet from 2013:

J Arden tweet against chuckwagon race

Presumably, she is aware of the 65 horses that have died in the Stampede’s chuckwagon races since 1986? That includes 11 dead horses since the Stampede’s much-publicised new “safety measures” were implemented in 2011.

Arden’s decision is also surprising and disappointing given her support for animal causes, including opposition to the Alberta government’s cull of wild horses. Perhaps she isn’t aware that the Calgary Stampede also culls unwanted horses, as revealed by media in 2012.  As CTV News reported at the time, “For the first time, the Calgary Stampede is admitting that horses that don’t make the cut to compete in the famous rodeo are sent to an Alberta slaughterhouse for meat.”

In 2014, Arden described her opposition to the Alberta horse cull and her feelings about horses, stating:  “They just need to be treated with respect. I know there needs to be some sensibility, but why does the fucking solution have to always be killing something?”  Yet killing is the Stampede’s solution to unwanted bucking horses. Isn’t there a double-standard here?

Perhaps Arden is not aware of Stampede’s horse culling policy but is she also unaware of what happens to other rodeo animals?

DSC_0021Does she know that steers died in the Stampede rodeo’s steer-wrestling event in 2014 and 2013?

Steer-wrestling involves riders jumping onto steers and twisting their necks until they fall to the ground.  Both steers had to be euthanized because of neck injuries.

Steer-wrestling has nothing to do with real ranch work. It was invented for rodeo in the 1930s.  It’s just entertainment.

Perhaps Arden is unaware of the suffering of other rodeo animals such as the three-month-old calves that are chased, roped, thrown to the ground and tied up. Or the steers that are roped by the horns and hind legs and stretched off their feet. Or the bulls and bucking horses that are tormented into bucking by the flank strap tightened around their hindquarters.  And all these animals suffer for the mere amusement of a crowd.

Ad calfDoes Arden care that virtually all animal welfare agencies around the world are opposed to rodeos – organizations like the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the national SPCAs of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.

And does she care that most of her fellow Canadians are opposed to rodeo, with a recent poll showing that only three-in-ten Canadians are in favour of using animals in rodeos?

Let Jann Arden know that rodeo is cruel

If you think Jann Arden needs to rethink her support of the Calgary Stampede, please let her know.

Below are some actions you can take to send her a message.

You can tweet one of the messages below by clicking on it. (You will need to be logged in to Twitter.):

Tweet: .@jannarden Please don’t support the Calgary Stampede rodeo & chucks. The Stampede culls unwanted bucking horses. Rodeo animals suffer!

Tweet: .@jannarden Surprised you are supporting the Calgary Stampede, which is known for animal cruelty. Please reconsider!

Tweet: .@jannarden As an animal lover aren’t you concerned about the treatment of horses and rodeo animals at Stampede? 65 dead horses since 1986!

Or simply compose your own tweet to her at @jannarden

You can politely comment on Jann Arden’s Facebook page.

Every time you take a stand for the animals it makes a difference.



animal welfare cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo

CBC to broadcast rodeo cruelty again

Calf roping 05

CBC Sports is once again planning to broadcast the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede.

CBC continues to ignore the fact that a majority of Canadians are opposed to using animals in rodeos, as shown in recent polls.  Our national public broadcaster is supposed to reflect Canadian values.  Instead, it persists in broadcasting events that subject animals to fear, pain, stress and the undue risk of injury and death – all for the sake of entertainment.

If you haven’t already done so, please sign our petition.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur