Horse Health

Horse Dies at Calgary Stampede’s Opening Night

From the pages of the Toronto Sun

Six Died at Last Year’s Event

CALGARY – A horse has been put down after it suffered an injury on the opening night of the Stampede.

The Rangeland Derby got off to rough start — Rookie driver Cliff Cunningham’s right wheel horse went down with a broken leg going into Turn 2 and Cunningham was forced to pull his wagon to a stop.

Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser said the veterinary team was on the scene immediately.

“During the fifth race, one of Cliff Cunningham’s horses suffered a broken leg,” Fraser said.

“This is considered a catastrophic injury, and the vet made the decision to euthanize the animal immediately.”

Fraser said the type of injury the horse suffered is not uncommon in the racing world.

“It’s one of the most common types of musculo-skeletal injuries that you’ll see with thoroughbred racing,” he said.

“It’s not just with chuckwagon racing.

“But we will send a blood sample out to toxicology to determine if there were any contributing factors.”

The Stampede cut the number of outriders in half in an attempt to reduce the number of equine casualties. Every outriding horse finished Friday night’s races without issue.

“With all the different measures we’ve taken over the past year to increase animal safety, we are greatly saddened by what happened.

“We’ll review all the circumstances to see if there’s anything that could have been done differently and to see if we can learn from it.”

14 replies »

  1. I saw on the news how Prince William and Katherine were at Calgary. Too bad they weren’t there when this happened. Perhaps they would have been horrified. Nothing like a bit of in your face realism to maybe make one change their minds.

    They had moved on to LA.


  2. The House of Windsor is a very “horsey” family.

    Prince William isn’t unfamiliar with equine injury, death or euthanasia….not sure about the Duchess.

    They went knowing full well about the carnage at Calgary, protesters and petition campaigns and all and they appeared anyway.

    I wonder how many equines (other animals, too) get off the course or center ring with injuries that wind up with their euthanasia?…out of the glare of spectators and media.


  3. 1.“But we will send a blood sample out to toxicology to determine if there were any contributing factors.”
    2. “We’ll review all the circumstances to see if there’s anything that could have been done differently and to see if we can learn from it.”

    After reading these inane quotes, all I can do is share a comment my grandfather use to say: It’s better to keep you mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and prove everyone right!” Sheesh!


    • There is no sane reason for animal cruelty (or human, for that matter).
      But I can tell you from college english classes you are told to use ‘it’ when referring to animals. I always had a problem with that! It seems to show a fundamental attitude that anything not human is treated as a ‘thing’.


    • How the heck do any of you know how these horses are cared for. Your comments are opinions or speculations. You do not know how any of the people take care of their horses. I have been to wagon races before, and let me tell you the horses I saw that were participating where dern sure cared for and beautiful animals. It is one thing to be upset about rodeo’s and not like how the animals are treated, but it is an entirely different thing to run ones mouth about something that you really don’t know anything about. It makes you look foolish and makes your arguement against the rodeo look uninformed and flammitory.


      • But Sherrie – Aren’t you and the human entrants using opinion and speculation to fashion the belief that the horses “like” being a participant in these races and events? When the truth is much more likely that these horses are being forced by wills stronger than theirs. They are being put in positions that they would not choose for themselves – Especially at a cost of their lives.

        And for what? Of what benefit is any of this aside from maintaining a charade of “cowboy” lure that never was… And for raking in the cash receipts from thoughtless patrons who wish it were so? The rode is a ruse.

        As far as people taking “care” of their horses… We’ve all been witness as to how that standard goes. “Care” is not placing a living being in harms way for frivolous ends. Rodeos are the gluttony of sacrificial entertainment. I’ll not be timid in defending the innocent victims of this farce.


  4. These yahoos are an affront to real horsemen. They make me sick and they do not ever deserve to have the title of horsemen stated in any connection with them on any level, ever.

    I hate to say it but this is the honest truth: Look at the ordered and focused world of Combined Driving as a comparison and it’s plain to see the difference between caring and knowledgeable horsemen and neanderthals cowboy wagon jockeys. Those combined driving horses are fit and carefully made that way with nutrition, step by step conditioning and careful management of their health and development. Special vet care, chiropractic, even massage is done to optimize athletic performance since they are pushing the limits in this discipline. All this prep is done to ensure the horses are optimally healthy and fit and are up to the demands of going fast and hard over rough country pulling a vehicle against the clock. The clock is even limited with a max and min time – they have to fall between in the optimal time range or they get penalized (whether too fast or too slow). That time range requirement in itself is FOR THE WELFARE of the horses. But you’ll never see it in cowboy mucho macho man wannabe wagon jockeying – they just do not care how many die.

    In this cowboy wagon race, it is likewise pushing the limits of the horse’s athletic capability. But I would bet these moron macho cowboy driver wannabe’s most likely just let the horses sit nearly all year in their pastures until the main event when they hitch them up and say “giddyup”. By contrast, combined driving horses work out all year, unless sidelined by small injury, to keep their fitness optimal.

    I would be willing to bet my last dollar that there is no nutrition plan, no step by step building of the muscle, bone, flexibility and endurance, no special care or consideration because these cowboys go only on macho ego — “my horses are better than yours and I’m a better driver!” (insert Home Improvement’s Tim Allen’s ape grunting sounds here).

    I’ve been to lots of different kinds of equine events and those that are really serious and really focused on getting optimal performance AND keeping their horses safe do not have catastrophic injuries like this every single time they have an event. It just does not happen when people are real horsemen and care about the well being of their animals.

    So I don’t care what kind of BS lie the Calgary Stampede wants to use to try to wiggle their way out of this — fact is, they just do not give a cr@p about these horses or this would not be happening OVER and OVER and OVER again ad nauseum.

    This is not horsemanship, it is abuse. And it doesn’t just happen in this fake macho cowboy driving spectacle, but this “Stampede” celebration of the torture, abuse and killing of horses is simply the most prominent barbaric and unacceptable event in today’s society when we know better. The science is there, people in combined driving and other REAL equine sports have proven that horses do not have suffer like this. The fact is that neanderthal cowboys do not deserve to own or compete with horses and that’s the bottom line.


    • And I bet they think they have to drive equines into the ground, like bats out of hell because they gotta get back to the fort before those Indian savages catch ’em.

      Excellent comparison you made about true horsemanship with regard to combined driving.


  5. Another example of animal abuse. How these assh___s can call themselves horsemen and that they care about the animals is a joke. THey should all burn in hell. I hope the poor horse did not suffer too long before put down., Another example of people who do not deserve to have/own horses. And this event is again a sport for people to enjoy. Hogwash! Just another show of how many poor horses are abused for the “joy” of human watching. It’s despicable. Humans and human entertainment disgust me. There are so many that don’t care about animals and how they can suffer at the human hands. They should all die a slow death in hell.


    • They may call themselves horsemen, but the horse world I was raised in wouldn’t.

      They are “demolition derby” morons using live, sentient beings. They ought to go back to cars….if they own any or know how to use ’em. If not, maybe they better go back to feudin’ and runnin’ white lightnin’.


      • “They are “demolition derby” morons using live, sentient beings.”

        EXACTLY!!! These rodeo events are NOT about developing equine athletes that will compete again and again over years with excellent supportive care so they have long healthy sport careers and then can be retired to be great pleasure, trail or show horses as is the case with the events favored by REAL horsemen like the combined drivers. The rodeo world has a strong mentality of disposable horses and these events that use, abuse, injure and kill the horses are proof of that. Heck, their professional association even publicly supports horse slaughter!


  6. Sometimes I find it hard to imagine the words “free” and “calgary stampede” together, but according to this little gem, (linkedy here, if you’d like to see this year’s festivities can be more wallet-friendly than ever. Sure, the main events and food stands do a stellar job of draining the good ol’ pocket book, but with a bit of planning, I’d bet one can have a pretty affordable bit of western fun.

    Just a thought.


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