Retired chuckwagon driver concerned sport won’t survive if rodeos cancelled
Natalie Valleau, reporting for CBC News, writes on Mar 25, 2020:
The rodeo world is worried about the future of the Calgary Stampede this summer and many are wondering how the pandemic will impact their sport.
Last week, the Calgary Stampede temporarily laid off 80 per cent of its staff — 890 people — due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not yet known if the event will go ahead in July.
“With the recent restrictions of mass gatherings as a result of COVID-19, the Calgary Stampede is currently facing an unprecedented halt in activity. To that end, we have made significant temporary staff reductions and are working through this with all of our employees,” the organization said in an emailed statement March 17.
Kelly Sutherland, a longtime chuckwagon driver who is now retired, says those competing in rodeos are in uncharted territory like everyone else.
“They’re on hold mode right now and they’re hoping that there will be a full season, but they’re unsure what will happen,” he told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.
He says that it’s also uncertain if other rodeos, like Grande Prairie and Ponoka, will also go ahead.
“I think they should have some answers in the next couple weeks to formulate the season, but routinely the training starts around the first part of April,” he said.
“They have a number of major stops to make and some start in May, so they need to have some decisions made. Otherwise, the costs are going to be crippling.”
He says for chuckwagon drivers they have invested $30,000 to $40,000 in their animals and will have training, farrier and veterinarian expenses in the coming weeks.
“That’s going to be a hit alone and I don’t think there has been any financial margins left in this sport except for maybe 10 per cent of the individuals winning more than their share, like I did, or have extraordinary sponsorships,” he said.
Sutherland, who won 12 Rangeland Derby trophies, says until the drivers get direction, there’s no sense in putting money into the sport if there’s nowhere to race. As well, he suspects some will leave rodeos altogether.
The chuckwagon driver says 60 to 80 per cent of seats at the Calgary Stampede are bought by tourists from around the globe.
“I doubt we will see a lot of travel this year. Everyone is upside down.… That poses a huge problem on the revenue side,” said Sutherland.
Let all rodeo end. They are hideously cruel and deadly to horses and all the animals they use.
The number of fatalities vary because numbers are rarely revealed to the public. However, it is generally accepted that since 1986, approximately 75 horses have been killed in the Calgary Stampede.
Last year, the CBC reported that the 2019 Calgary Stampede tied as the 2nd deadliest year for chuckwagon horses, and that the total number of animal deaths at rodeo and chuckwagon races have topped 100 since 1986. At the top of the per kills per year list is 1986 when 12 horses were killed.
“Has a horse go down” the caption says. That’s rich. You cannot go down any lower than being dead. These people defy belief.
Please also bear in mind there are fatalities that no one hears about, such as horses dropping dead after an event, or found dead in the their stalls the following morning from Stampede related injuries.
And there is this. There are literally thousands of animals used behind the scenes to perfect the “cowboy” rodeo skills. The figures mentioned herein do NOT include horses who have been injured or killed in practice or training.
Alas, horse killing does not begin and end in competition.
Some horses die before they even make it to the Stampede. Nine rodeo horses died after they became spooked while crossing a bridge in 2005.
Injured horses or horses who are no longer competition are sent to slaughter.
NOTE: We have been challenged by these folks for our “constant use of the word killed instead of died”. Saying a horse “died” following an abusive situation makes it sound like it was the horse’s fault instead of the abuser’s. If you abuse a horse in the conduct of any activity and that horse dies, you killed that horse.
Death by Numbers: Horses Killed at the Calgary Stampede (Rodeo), Tuesday’s Horse, July 2016 (Updated 2019)
If you have never seen one of these races check out these excerpts. In the meantime, how does anyone stand there and say horse safety is a priority with a straight face? Trying to “save face” and not doing a very good job of it. Watch.