Calgary Stampede cancelled for 1st time in almost a century

Bucking bronco horse ejects cowboy. Globe & Mail. Calgary Stampede rodeo. 2015.

‘It was mandatory’

The Calgary Stampede will not go forward this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced Thursday.

This year’s event was scheduled for July 3-12, but was deemed unworkable given the ban on large gatherings and the need for physical distancing.

“This is very, very tough. Stampede is such an important part of who we are as a community, and it’s hard for me to even imagine what a July without a Stampede will look like,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “But this year, with this risk, we simply cannot continue to do that.”

Tom Sampson, chief of Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said these types of decisions are mandatory given the state of the pandemic in Alberta.

“I think I’ve been in denial. But there was no choice here,” Sampson said. “It was mandatory. It was a decision that needed to take place.”

The cancellation is a major blow to a city and province already reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns coupled with the collapse of energy prices.


We Say

The Int’l Fund for Horses have been after the corporate sponsors for years to stop funding these unnecessary and archaic rodeo events — all of it, not just the chuckwagon races.

Now is the time for Calgary to come up with something to replace Stampede rodeo events with, something that doesn’t rely on animal brutality, suffering and death.

There already is something — a superb something — as mentioned in a related CBC Stampede news item:

The Stampede is Calgary’s largest arts and music festival

Open quote

While a few Calgarians and a few more Canadians will be happy to see the Stampede cancelled this year — and hope that it will never resume — what they don’t realize is that the Stampede is not just a rodeo, and it’s not just a huge money generator for the city of Calgary . . . what a lot of people don’t realize is that one of Canada’s largest and most diverse arts festivals has also just been cancelled.

It is also a huge music festival. The Stampede has four music venues and anywhere from 80 to 100 bands performing, creating what is essentially a 10-day music festival. Read more »

Manitoba Stampede also cancelled

Copyright: bucweeet (paul mckeen). All Rights Reserved.

Canada’s Global News service reports that the Manitoba Stampede scheduled to take place July 16-19, 2020, has also been cancelled due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

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Featured Image: The Globe and Mail: Cowboy turfed from Calgary Stampede for whipping horse during event, 10 Jul 2015.

Calgary Stampede still facing cancellation

The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition, and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The ten-day event, which bills itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, attracts over one million visitors per year and features one of the world’s largest rodeos, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing, and First Nations exhibitions.

No decision has been made on whether the Calgary Stampede, set to take place July 3-10, will be cancelled, or possibly delayed this year. Organizers, however, recently stated that postponing it to late July is ‘not viable’.

Pull the plug already

Rick Bell, writing for the Calgary Sun states:

Open quote

After all this stay at home and don’t go near people stuff, why hasn’t the Calgary Stampede done the inevitable and pulled the plug? Instead, the Stampede says they ‘continue to be paused’ until they get ‘further direction’ from the authorities. When asked, the premier tells us he’s not going to ‘improvise direction to the Stampede or other events’. So far there isn’t any further direction. The Stampede still holds the reins.

Global News reported six days ago that “Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the government will have an update for summer festivals like the Calgary Stampede soon.”

We believe this is the reason why everyone is so hesitant and no one wants to appear to be the decision maker in this. “A loss this year — even a delay — would cost a lot of money. According to the Stampede board, the event pumps about $400 million into the economy each year,” writes Bill MacFarland of CTV News. “The Stampede hasn’t missed a single year since 1923 despite the Depression, the Second World War and the flood of 2013”, he noted.

Chuckwagon races

The Calgary Stampede rodeo is familiar to horse advocates because of its murderous Chuckwagon races which kill horses year after year as a matter of routine.

“When the Stampede starts, everyone waits with bated breath to see when the first horse will die and this time we had to endure six deaths,” Camille Labchuk with Animal Justice told 660 City News in July last year. “It’s high time that authorities investigate this for illegal animal cruelty and appropriately charge it.”

Labchuk said that more than 100 animals have died at the Stampede since the mid-1980s [when deaths began to be recorded] and believes that authorities are turning a blind eye. She adds that that no rodeo has been prosecuted since the 1950s.

As a side note, the Calgary Stampede, particularly Chuckwagon racing, uses off the track Thoroughbreds.

The show must go on

Bill Macfarlane, investigating for CTV News, reports:

Open quote

With an update on this year’s Calgary Stampede expected as soon as Wednesday, one two-time Rangeland Derby Champion says he sees no reason why the show shouldn’t go on.

“The cases are so low I just don’t understand it,” said Luke Tournier, who won chuckwagon racing’s most prestigious prize in 2005 and 2007. “H1N1 was a way higher scarier disease and we didn’t do this kind of procedure.”

The numbers, however, don’t support Tournier’s take. Health Canada reported that in 2009-2010, there were 428 known deaths across Canada due to H1N1 out of 33,509 cases.

As of Tuesday afternoon there were 38,210 COVID-19 cases and 1833 deaths — numbers that disease models predict will get significantly worse over the next three weeks.

“It’s devastating. If Calgary doesn’t go this year, how devastated is the city going to be?” Tournier said. “If I come back next year is anybody going to be able to afford to buy a chuckwagon?”

Other drivers said the cost of maintaining herds of between 30 and 60 horses are high, and so far this year there are no sponsors to help with the bills.

“I don’t know how many of our chuckwagon guys will be able to hang on to their careers without some sort of a season,” said Layne MacGillvary, a driver from the Stettler area. “No business survives with zero income.”

Related Reading


No Stampede this year could force some cowboys to leave rodeo sports, Tuesday’s Horse, 27 Mar 2020


Three more chuckwagon horses killed totalling 6, Tuesday’s Horse, 16 Jul 2019

Kill chuckwagon racing, by Vivian Farrell, Tuesday’s Horse, 14 Jul 2019

Calgary Stampede kills third chuckwagon horse (Video Report), Tuesday’s Horse, 13 Jul 2019

Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race kills second horse, Tuesday’s Horse, 12 Jul 2019


Calgary Stampede’s Chuckwagon Race, a half-mile of hell says Chuckwagon Association, Tuesday’s Horse, 14 Jul 2015

See all Rodeo Horses posts, Tuesday’s Horse »


Cut the Shit, Calgary: Ban Chuckwagon Racing, VICE Magazine online, by Cameron Read, 13 Jul 2012

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No Stampede this year could force some cowboys to leave rodeo sports

Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Races consistently result in injury and death of the horses used for this barbaric and archaic event.

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.

Source article »

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.

Driver Obrey Motowylo driving for Prism Flow Products has a horse go down during heat 2 during the GMC Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

“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.

Some Numbers

Animals Deaths at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo & Chuckwagon Races, Vancouver Humane Society (pdf, 1 p)

Death by Numbers: Horses Killed at the Calgary Stampede (Rodeo), Tuesday’s Horse, July 2016 (Updated 2019)

Chuckwagon Video

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.

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NYC legislators wrangle with proposed ban on cruel rodeo acts

Rodeo returns to Madison Square Garden June 2020.

ALBANY — New York’s agricultural community is bucking legislation that would ban allegedly “cruel” rodeo acts, such as including bull riding and calf roping.

The measure was drafted by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, an animal rights advocate who launched the push to curb New York rodeos after learning that Madison Square Garden will be the setting for an extravaganza — “Rodeo New York” — to be televised on the Cowboy Channel in June.

Rosenthal’s proposal to corral some rodeo acts is kicking up more resistance.

Opponents call a ban on rodeos unnecessary and point out the events draw enthusiastic crowds when they are held at county fairs and several upstate ranches.

“We encourage Assemblywoman Rosenthal to actually attend a rodeo and meet with horse owners before sponsoring what may be a well-intentioned, but misguided and unwarranted bill,” said Steve Ammerman, spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau. The nonprofit group is the lobby for the state’s agricultural industry.”[1]

Beware of what you wish for Ammerman. Witnessing rodeo cruelties in person is even more devastating that seeing them in videos.

In the meantime, Rosenthal makes her view perfectly clear.

“Rodeos are modern day gladiator games — blood sport masquerading as entertainment. Make no mistake about it: bull riding and other rodeo events are not family-friendly entertainment. Animals used in rodeos are forced to travel city to city to put on a show that revolves around humans terrorizing them until they act out of terror, pain and exhaustion. Many animals are injured, and some are killed as a result. I’ve introduced legislation to prohibit animal abuse in the context of rodeos. Outside the context of the rodeo, events such as these would easily be classified as cruelty.” [2]

Peggy Larson, a large animal veterinarian and a former rodeo bareback bronc competitor herself, said the injuries sustained by animals abused in rodeos include broken bones, ruptured internal organs, massive internal hemorrhage, hemorrhage from torn muscles, dislocated joints, extensive bruising, torn ligaments, damaged tendons, hemorrhage, damage to the throat, and damage to the thyroid gland, and many of them die because of those injuries.

“Animals in rodeos suffer severe injuries and intense pain and it is inhumane to allow rodeos to continue,” Larson said.[3]

Bill Summary

Bill A08554 “Prohibits certain acts in rodeos; imposes penalties for the violation of such acts.” If the bill becomes law, it would “prohibit the use of cruel acts in rodeos, including calf roping and the use of electric prods, flank or bucking straps and sharpened or fixed spurs.”

The Bill does not call for an all out ban. If only it did.

Calling New York State Residents

The Fund for Horses endorses New York State Assembly Bill A08554.

If you are a New York State resident, contact your Assemblymember stating you support the passage of Bill A08554 and encourage them to endorse and vote yes for it.

Find your Assemblymember here.

Know your District No.? Here’s a list of all Assemblymembers which includes their phone number, fax number and email addresses. If you prefer, here’s a list of all emails addresses in alphabetical order by Member.

Track Bill A08554 and more here.

Madison Square Garden

The Garden is promoting the event this way:

For the first time in over thirty years, Rodeo will return to Madison Square Garden as THE COWBOY CHANNEL presents ‘RODEO NEW YORK’ taking place Father’s Day weekend, June 19-21, 2020.

Related Reading

Anti-rodeo activists protest at home of Madison Square Garden President Andrew Lustgarten, Dec. 18, 2019, Tuesday’s Horse

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