Horse News

Oregon Rodeo Cancels Wild Horse Race After Tragedy


“They (rodeos) are not subject to legal regulation – they’re exempt…”

horse_collisionST. PAUL, Ore. – Last year, two horses collided head-on at the St. Paul Rodeo in an accident that shocked spectators. Now organizers say they will not run the same event this year.

The collision happened during the wild horse race, one of the rodeo’s signature events. Two horses were speeding around in circles in opposite directions and hit head-on at full gallop.

The riders were not injured but the horses were. One was so badly hurt that it had to be put down the next morning. The other horse, which ended up crippled, was later put down as well.

A spectator caught the collision on video and posted it on YouTube.

(WARNING: While the video is not graphic, it may be disturbing for some viewers. The collision happens about one minute into the clip).

We talked to the St. Paul Rodeo’s Livestock Director, Steve Coleman, to find out more about the decision.

Coleman said while the accident was something you never want to see, he wanted to hold the Wild Horse Race this year. He was out-voted by the board.

“It’s the way you used to break horses in the old days,” he said. “Nowadays, they do it kind of different.”

Coleman said while he, personally, would like to hold the event again, it’s doubtful there will ever be another wild race horse race at the St. Paul Rodeo after what happened.

“We most likely won’t do it again,” he said.

The rodeo made the decision earlier this year. When they told their fans about it on their Facebook page, there were mixed comments. Here are a few:

“I am glad to hear this. While the wild horse race is the most exciting event when it goes well, it’s also scary and tragic when it goes badly. I will miss the race but not the danger to the riders and animals. I was at Pendleton in 2011 when riders were also seriously injured during the races.” – Elke Bernal Bruton

“People and animals get hurt in rodeo. If you can’t deal with the reality of it, maybe you should go to the zoo instead.” – John DeMeritt

“I support your decision. Still a little too fresh. Give it some time!” – Shan Ryan

“So bummed! I so wanted to take the grandkids this year to see the Wild Horse Race of St. Paul Rodeo. It’s so exciting – I’ve never seen anything like it.” – Sarah Saucedo

“I agree with the board because although it is fun watching cowboys ride around on untamed horses, those horses are probably scared outta their minds. One of the horses I ride is such a sweetheart and completely tame, but just being brought to a show really scares her. Horses truly have feelings and we should respect that.” – Hopeful Engberg

“These wild horses get treated better being in the rodeo than they do out in the wild. They have water and food readily available and work for a few minutes a year. Really is too bad to hear.” – Jeff Annen

The Oregon Humane Society was a vocal opponent to the wild horse race following what happened and we talked to them as well to get their reaction.

“We’re very pleased to see this action,” said OHS spokesman David Lytle. “They (rodeos) are not subject to legal regulation – they’re exempt – so it’s up to the court of public opinion and I think the public outcry was so huge it just forced action.”

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34 replies »

  1. Had no idea that this even took place, recreation at it’s finest, my gosh, glad to hear that they stopped this and glad for some of the comments, the others well, just heartless


    • I agree with Jeannie. This was horrible to watch. Oregonians, as a group, are kind people, but some of these old forms of “entertainment” are just barbaric.


  2. I truly cannot imagine what sort of psychopathic brain would be ‘entertained’ by wild horses going out of their mind with fear amongst all that noise and being roughly handled by idiots playing at being cowboys. It is beyond my comprehension and I’m over the moon that such an exhibit has been cancelled. Banning of all rodeos cannot come soon enough for me, they are nothing but systematic abuse of wonderful living creatures. Oh and by the way I’m no ‘tree hugger’, I just know when certain things are just wrong.


  3. that whole thing is so cruel I can not believe you put those mustangs thru this fear, I sat watching with my hand across my mouth. glad it is finished for good. cruelty in action


  4. Gee Steve Coleman, would it still have gone on if two humans had to have been “put down” after being crippled during this “event”. This is truly a inhumane way to treat wild, free spirited horses. This is not a contest as much as organized abuse. It’s deplorable that people still want this wild horse “race” to continue. These are not bucking broncos either.


  5. I can’t even imagine what these horses go through with something like this. These cowboys think they are horseman? Shame on them, and shame on anyone who finds this entertaining. Thank God for the Humane Society and the public who took time to voice their opinion. It is heartening to know someone does listen. We can’t change the whole world at once, but we can change it one step at a time.


  6. These kind of events need to be banned. I wonder if there were any children present. I could not even watch the video, too disturbing because you can feel the terrior in these horses. The Lord gave us these beautiful creatures to love and enjoy. I hope those creating the terror, injury and death suffer the same fate as some time. We should not tolerate this as a society. I believe people now more than ever are standing up for the animals. Humane Societies and the investigators working for them provide a very real and necessary task. It at times is so heartbreaking because you never get accustomed to the abuse. However, those that suffer provide protection for the others. Sad, but so true. Kudos and prayers to all those investigators who give their time and their hearts to save our animals.


  7. This is not the way old time cowboys did this..only in a very broad sense, that they bucked horses out rather than a long process of training( one of the main things that irritates me about the mustange challenge is taking a wild horse and having it compete after 100 days from capture, they allow them to take several prospects to try and get one to the competition”..first off in the wild horse race all the horses are turned loose in the arena dragging ropes..a team of “cowboys” pile on the horses..many of those horses do not even buck..they take off in terror imagining a predator has strapped on to the time they even get some of them saddled, their knecks have been dislocated..It is completely barbaric and the sad thing is that the cowboys didn’t die and the horses did..It certainly is not an isolatedi ncident…once a horse has been used in these “races” they are discarded or slaughtered, because they will not put on a show next time


    • many times these are horses rented from Native american tribes at least here in the northwest..and this was told to me by a member that participates every year in their roundups..members get first pick and most of the rest go to are not interested in buying them so much because it will be a one shot deal unless it is cheap enough that they can make some money on them at slaughter..they are not treated the same way bucking stock are


  8. “These wild horses get treated better being in the rodeo than they do out in the wild. They have water and food readily available and work for a few minutes a year. Really is too bad to hear.” – Jeff Annen

    Do you really think, Mr. Annen that, had they been given the choice between struggling on their ranges and having food and water given to them in exchange for the ‘work’, they really would have chosen the latter?

    “Clueless” doesn’t even cover it…


  9. If any of these are BLM wild horses, even infamous sale authority wild horses, they must not be used in this manner. This is saying they are garbage not iconic. Wild ones are not throw aways. Our culture is so out of touch these days that blood sports for burros and horses are on the increase despite a strong opposition. How many will die this year from the little town rodeos to the big national kill fests?

    where is the leadership we need in DC????


    • Sally Spencer told me directly that they do sell wild horse SA horses to rodeos..we had seen the branded mustangs at the Cheyenne rodeo shark video..Shark records animal abuse..several of us wrote really nasty letters to the rodeo contractor and city fathers..bucking stock mostly comes from bucking horse breeding farms…sometimes a “real “bucking horse is found among other populations of domestics or drafts..wild horses and indian ponies are primarlily used for wild horse races and horse tripping..great bucking stock is too valuable to be treated in a throw away manner..a great bucking horse can be worth hundreds of thousand s of bet they get premium care, because they are not born every day.. to buck all the time..they are wired that way and enhanced with a flank strap to encourage it..the wild horse races, the horse bucks out of sheer terror


    • Ask the pcra. They are notorious for damaging and destroying horses, calves and then sending them off to slaughter. That’s how they operate with no rules to tell them. This is another group that strongly supports horse slaughter. Not horsemen or women to say the least.


  10. If the horse is “wild” and not “broke” it should not be ridden in any event, show, or rodeo..obviously something bad will happen to horses or the riders..We don’t need to abuse wild unbroke horses for entertainment. These animals don’t need to die or be injured or our amusement. You can have a show without danger to humans and animals.


    • The bronco’s they “bust” some of em are trained to flip out like that and pitch around. it’s all for show. but things also get really dangerous when a wild unbroke horse is brought into the picture.. that show horse does what it’s trained to do. That unbroke steed you think you’re gonna get the best of? That horse will do anything and everything do get you off it’s back, including flipping itself over onto it’s back if it means you’re off of it as a result, they will also slam themselves against walls in attempts to dislodge you from their backs.. it’s horrifying to see an animal in that much terror. and for what.. a few cheers from the crowd? yuck..


  11. The best care for the horses my Ass. They both died. That’s typical of the professional cowboy rodeo association to injure and destroy the very horses that make then the money. I hope to never hear of this event again in my life. Along with horse tripping, calf roping among the other destructive behavior of this group of hoodlums. Yes i am beyond angry.


  12. Rodeos are like dog fighting spectacles and the circus–cruel and in humane–in the name of entertainment


  13. It is good to get angry because we are the voice for the animals. If we don’t speak up this may start up again and we don’t want any more horses injured for entertainment. I mean that is barbaric.


  14. Sure, these horses would rather be “fed & watered” and manhandled by these jerks rather than live wild & free! I used to think rodeos were fun (when I was a kid) certainly don’t feel that way anymore – what kind of mentality does it take to watch 2 horses become crippled right before their eyes? Sort of makes you think back to the coliseum, doesn’t it? Same sort of thought processes. Maybe they have been doing too much “gaming” – cant tell the difference between real & pretend.


    • Nothin but a bunch of chest beaters in cowboy hats trying to see whose gonads are the biggest.. and at the expense of such a powerful magnificent animal…


  15. has there been an update about the wild horse races in washington state being ceased? the one that raced horses down a mega steep hill?


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