by VIVIAN FARRELL
I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that Canada’s Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race is deadly to horses.
Can chuckwagon racing be made safer? I don’t think so.
As with any type of competition where speed is central to winning, speed kills. Here you are asking half a ton of animal — in this case commonly off the track Thoroughbreds from the American racing industry — hooked up into a team of four, to navigate tight turns on toothpick legs, pulling a manned wagon at breakneck speed, often coming into contact with other wagons and other horses.
The drivers have to snatch up to keep from running into one other. However, crashes still occur, horses falling hard to the ground, getting tangled up in the reins and legs of other horses, confused and scared, often struggling to get up back up even when fatally injured, all accompanied by a wall of noise coming from a screaming crowd.
The modern day Thoroughbred in America breaks down in a race carrying little more than a lightweight saddle and a jockey owing to generations of irresponsible drugging and breeding. What chance do these horses have coming out unscathed in an event like chuckwagon racing? Not a good one.
Originally, the chuckwagon race was run in a straight line. To make it more “exciting” by increasing the likelihood of wagons crashing, they began running the race around a circuit which added dangerous bends and turns to navigate, especially while pulling a heavy, old fashioned wagon and driver.
Since its inception the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon race has historically injured and killed horses whether they run on a straight course or oval course. Currently, the number of horse deaths since its inaugural run in 1986 is a reported 60+. What is clear is that so long as chuckwagon racing continues, so does the injury and death of their horses.
Then there’s this. What is rarely mentioned and not accounted for is the number of chuckwagon horses who are “retired” by way of the slaughterhouse. If you added these deaths, the overall total of related horse fatalities would be much higher.
One particular chuckwagon horse mentioned in a recent litany of the event’s deaths was a 16 year old Thoroughbred. This made me feel particularly sad. Imagine the suffering that horse endured throughout his life from racehorse to chuckwagon horse which ended not peacefully but painfully to the pitched cries of an excited and vulgar audience. Better than the slaughterhouse? I doubt it.
There is only one solution. Kill chuckwagon racing before it kills more horses.
Let’s get this message out everywhere especially Twitter. Thanks!
Kill chuckwagon racing not horses @calgarystampede @stampede_steve
#stampede #kills #horses #chuckthechucks #cschuckwagons