Horse euthanized after chuckwagon race at Calgary Stampede

A horse was put down at the Calgary Stampede after it was injured during a chuckwagon race Thursday.

According to Stampede officials, the horse — from chuckwagon driver Cody Ridsdale’s team — was hurt during the fourth heat of the races.

They add the horse was immediately attended to by medical staff.

“Following veterinary assessment, the owner made the humane decision to euthanize the horse,” said a statement.

According to the Vancouver Humane Society, six chuckwagon horses died during the 2019 Calgary Stampede.

Emily Pickett, campaign director at the Vancouver Humane Society, says horses dying during the chuckwagon races is unfortunately predictable.

“The track record of the near annual deaths is why the Vancouver Humane Society and others that are concerned about these races have been calling for the Stampede to drop the chuckwagon races entirely,” Pickett said.

“We know that these are inherently dangerous events. The structure of the events themselves are highspeed, (there’s) close proximity of the horses and the wagons to each other, and it also presents the risk of creating a chain reaction if one horse should fall or become injured, others can easily become involved.”

Pickett says another concern is the use of thoroughbred horses in the chuckwagon races, commonly referred to as the chucks.

“Animal scientist Temple Grandin noted that thoroughbreds are often overbred for speed rather than for skeletal strength,” Pickett explained. “So that makes their legs susceptible to injury in the chuckwagon races.”

The Vancouver Humane Society has been calling for the Calgary Stampede to do away with chuckwagon races for years.

“We think it’s really important for the Stampede and decision makers to move away from the chuckwagon events, and really embrace all the other great activities and events that happen at the Stampede that don’t put animals at risk of injury and death like this.”

Stampede recently partnered with the University of Calgary to conduct research on the chucks, aiming to make the event safer for the animals.

“The research really is to look at the track, and try to improve the safety of the track by looking at the impact of the legs on the track.” said Dr. Renaud Léguillette, professor at the University of Calgary.

Although changes were made to the race format over the years with the safety of horses and riders in mind, Pickett says it isn’t enough to protect the animals from harm.

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