Three chuckwagon horses died in this crash in 2012. A Vancouver Humane Society analysis shows the death of six horses this year brings to 105 the number of animals who have lost their lives in Stampede rodeo events since 1986. (CBC)

Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races claim lives of six horses

Animal rights activists want an investigation into what they are calling “illegal rodeo cruelty” after six horses were killed at this year’s Calgary Stampede after competing in chuckwagon races.

Three of the horses had to be put down Sunday, making this year’s Stampede the deadliest since 2010.

According to an analysis by the Vancouver Humane Society, the six horses killed this year bring the total to 105 animals who have lost their lives in Stampede rodeo events since 1986.

“Alberta law makes it illegal to inflict unreasonable distress on animals, and there are no exemptions for rodeos,” the executive director of Animal Justice, Camille Labchuk, said in a statement.

After a horse had to be put down on July 11, chuckwagon driver Chad Harden was fined $10,000 and banned from competing in the Stampede and future ones. He is permitted to apply for reinstatement on Sept. 1. (CBC Sports)

Animal Justice says no rodeo event or participant has faced prosecution in Canada since 1950.

After the three horses were euthanized on Sunday, the Stampede released a statement calling the situation “challenging and upsetting.”

The Stampede, the statement said, is “committed to initiating a thorough review process” around chuckwagon safety.

It offered no specifics.

Teams compete in a chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede in 2010. Six horses died at the 2019 Calgary Stampede, tying 2010 for the second most deaths ever at the Stampede. Twelve horses died in 1986. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Four of the six horses that died were from the same driver’s team.

The six deaths tied matched the number of horses that died in 2010 for the second-highest total ever.

Twelve horses died in 1986.

Chuckwagon horses make up more than two-thirds of the animal deaths at the Stampede.

With files from CBC, CP, Global

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4 comments on “Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races claim lives of six horses
  1. Avatar Jennofur OConnor says:

    This madness must end! The chuckwagon races have been reasponsible for so much suffering and death. No more!

  2. Avatar Claire Vinet says:

    Horses die every year in this ridiculous and utterly irresponsible event. People are stupid and they never learn. Unfortunately, it’s the animals that pay the price.

  3. The chuckwagon races should be dropped immediately. Rodeo is condemned for its inherent cruelty by nearly every animal welfare organization in North America. The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales) outlawed rodeos back in 1934. Canada and the U.S. should follow suit. For the majority of the exploited animals involved, the rodeo arena is merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse.

    Most of rodeo is bogus from the git-go. REAL working ranch hands never routinely rode bulls, or wrestled steers, or rode bareback, or practiced calf roping (terrified BABIES!) as a timed event. Nor did they put flank straps on the horses and bulls, nor work them over with “hotshots,” kicks and slaps in the holding chutes. Some “sport”!

    Indeed, rodeo is not a “sport” at all–that word denotes willing, evenly-match participants. Rodeo does not qualify. Rather, it’s a macho–and often blatantly sexist–exercise in DOMINATION. And it needs to stop.

    Where’s the local religious community on this moral and ethical issue, pray? Clearly, the local SPCAs and humane societies are not doing their jobs.

    Boycott all rodeos and their corporate sponsors and advertisers. Follow the money.


    Eric Mills, coordinator