Injured horse put down after Calgary Stampede race

As reported by CTV Edmonton:

The Calgary Stampede got off to a grim start on Friday when a horse had to be euthanized after breaking its leg during the festival’s first night of chuckwagon racing.

The horse’s death comes in the wake of a substantial overhaul to animal care standards at the Calgary Stampede, leaving officials to answer some pointed questions on rodeo safety.

“The leg injury was considered a catastrophic injury, so our veterinarian made the decision to euthanize the horse immediately,” Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser said in a statement released after the horse was put down.

“Honestly, we’re greatly saddened by what happened today. We take the care of our animals very seriously.”

During a chuckwagon race, a driver — in this case, Cliff Cunningham — leads a team of thoroughbred horses around a circuit.

Fraser said the injury wasn’t the result of a crash and happened between turns on the race course.

No riders or other animals were hurt during the race.

In the wake of Friday’s chuckwagon incident, the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has called upon the Calgary Stampede to suspend the races.

“The Stampede’s claims to have made the race safer have been proven false,” VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker said in a statement issued on Saturday.

“It is totally unacceptable to continue this event when horse after horse is dying just to entertain a crowd.”

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