Chuckwagon horse euthanized after Calgary Stampede race

Click to play video: 'Chuckwagon horse euthanized after Calgary Stampede race'
Chuckwagon horse euthanized after Calgary Stampede race
WATCH: The chuckwagon races have long been controversial and, following a tragic incident last night at the Calgary Stampede, animal rights groups are renewing calls for it to end. As Jill Croteau reports, the horse that had to be put down was medically cleared to race before it hit the track – Jul 15, 2022

A chuckwagon rider has had to make the tough decision to put down a racing horse.

Around 10:45 p.m. Thursday, the Calgary Stampede said a chuckwagon horse was injured during a race.

The horse belonged to Grimshaw, Alta., rider, Cody Risdale.

After a veterinary assessment, the owner decided to euthanize the horse.

New protocols are in place for the 2022 Stampede after six horses were killed back in 2019. It’s the first time only three chucks are competing in the race, compared with four in previous years.

Click to play video: 'Changes to chuckwagon races at Calgary Stampede may reduce tragedy on the track'
Changes to chuckwagon races at Calgary Stampede may reduce tragedy on the track

CEO of the Calgary Stampede, Joel Cowley called it an unfortunate event and was sympathetic towards Risdale.

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Cowley added they’ve included lane delineators that give drivers an escape path should they become pressured on the inside. The Stampede also use ground-penetrating radar on the track to make sure the base is completely level before starting any of the races.

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Animal Justice, a national animal law organization said they are calling for an animal cruelty investigation.

“The Stampede organizers and racers know full well that horses will almost certainly die from horrific injuries in the ‘half mile of hell’ chuckwagon races,” said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.

“Animal Justice is calling on the Calgary Humane Society, Calgary Police, and Alberta SPCA to investigate this latest death, and bring charges before the courts.”

Cowley said while there is always a risk of injury in any sport, “but we do everything we can from track preparation to ensuring animals have time to become fit before they run, inspections are done before the race.”

“Our vets inspect every horse,” Cowley said.

“Eighteen were withheld from competition this year due to lameness or risk of cardiac so we are doing a tremendous amount to help minimize any incidents but unfortunately can’t eliminate all risk of an incident occurring,” he continued.

Dr. Renaud Leguillette, the chair of equine sports medicine at the University of Calgary and veterinary researcher with the Stampede, said finding every issue affecting the animals can be difficult.

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Click to play video: 'Calgary Stampede wraps us with mostly success, animal rights advocates call out horse death at races'
Calgary Stampede wraps us with mostly success, animal rights advocates call out horse death at races

“Unfortunately, once-in-a-100 cases, those small issues can become a very big problem during racing at full speed,” Leguillette told Global News.

“Horses are prey animals. They are good at hiding pain or any issues. In nature they don’t want to show a predator they are in trouble.

“This horse passed the test and there are things that are difficult to see, even more difficult with horses because you don’t have that communication.”

A statement from Brad Nichols, the director of operations and enforcement at the Calgary Humane Society, said the society was aware of the incident and that a peace officer was present at the time of the incident.

“It is always tragic when a participating animal is injured or perishes,” the statement read. “Chuckwagon racing and injury resulting from accidents are not offenses under the Animal Protection Act.

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“Medical care was immediately provided to the horse and the owner had the legal right to euthanize.

“While our enforcement arm must remain objective in order to fulfil its mandate, Calgary Humane Society does not support the use of animals in entertainment due to the inherent risk involved and has asked Calgary Stampede to cease Chuckwagon Races.”

— With files from Adam Toy and Jill Croteau, Global News

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