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Changes at Stampede Park aim to make rodeo safer for animals, cowboys

CALGARY- The Calgary Stampede is making some big changes, in hopes of protecting both animals and cowboys.

New steel chutes have been installed in Stampede Park, which have wider, rounder and higher steel bars, better gate openings and hard rubber separating the animals.

“It was time to replace them,” says livestock handling specialist Jennifer Woods. “There were some safety issues with the other ones, just areas where the animals might get hung up.”

Woods helped the Stampede select the new chutes, which were manufactured by a company in Texas. The Stampede considered developing their own, before settling on technology that’s used at the CFR in Edmonton and the NFR in Las Vegas.

“The number of chute related injuries was very low, but any time that there’s new technology I think it’s responsible to look at it,” says the Stampede’s head veterinarian, Dr. Greg Evans.

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Work is also underway on the park’s new track, which is being shortened to make it a true half-mile—about 45 metres shorter.

“It will change the mindset of some of the drivers, probably what horses they drive,” predicts Keith Marrington, director of rodeo and chuckwagons. “The track is basically a third of a furling shorter.”

The Stampede says the shorter track should not create any safety concerns, and hope that with the new chutes the rodeo is accident-free.

Three horses had to be put down in the Rangeland Derby last year.

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