Chuckwagon races have returned to the Calgary Stampede for the first time since six horses died in 2019. The nightly rodeo events see three covered wagons pulled by four thoroughbred horses each race in a figure eight, followed by a high-speed sprint to the finish.
Chuckwagon races are highly stressful for the horses, as they race at high speeds under dangerous conditions. If one horse falls or a wagon tips over, the entire team of horses is likely to fall too, increasing the chance of serious injuries and deaths.
Horses are killed in Stampede chuckwagon races nearly every single year. According to tracking done by the Vancouver Humane Society, 106 animals have been killed in Stampede rodeo events since 1986.
Dubbed “the half mile of hell”, the event is a product of a bygone era, invented by the rodeo’s promoter almost 100 years ago. The races are increasingly out of step with Canadians’ values, with 62% of people opposed to using animals in rodeos.
Despite the carnage, no rodeo event or participant has faced prosecution in Canada since 1950—nearly 70 years.
It’s time for law enforcement to finally crack down on animal cruelty at rodeo events. The city of Calgary needs to outlaw chuckwagon racing, on grounds that it is an exceedingly dangerous spectacle of cruelty, with horses almost guaranteed to die in the deadly races every year.
Please tell the Calgary mayor that the Stampede doesn’t need rodeo events to flourish, and most guests don’t patronize rodeo. Stampede concerts, carnival rides, games, and parades already make it a great celebration—no cruelty required. It’s time to stamp out rodeo cruelty for good!
Banner image by Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media
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