Animal Justice Files Complaints Over Horse Mistreatment, Abuse & Death at Alberta Chuckwagon Events

Animal Justice is calling on the Alberta SPCA to investigate multiple instances of animal abuse at Alberta rodeos in July.

Chuckwagon racing is an inherently dangerous activity for the horses involved, and animal protection advocates are opposed to these risky and unnecessary spectacles of cruelty. Chuckwagon races were held at rodeos in Red Deer and High River, Alberta despite animal welfare concerns raised by the Calgary Humane Society and Calgary Stampede—concerns that led the Stampede to cancel its own chuckwagon racing events this year.

At the North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships in Red Deer, a horse was killed following a crash on July 24, in which the horse lost stride and suffered serious injuries.  Eyewitnesses who attended the event informed Animal Justice that another serious crash took place the following day when a horse became tangled in their racing equipment, resulting in a collision. According to witnesses, the horse was covered in a tarp and was assisted into a trailer, seemingly injured. It is unclear what the condition of this horse is or whether the animal was later killed off.

Eyewitnesses at the Battle of the Foothills event in High River on July 24 also reported shocking mistreatment of several horses being used in the races. They observed and documented a rider forcefully kicking a horse while standing next to the animal, in an apparent attempt to force the horse to participate in the race. They also documented numerous horses left out in 30C+ weather, during an air quality advisory, and without suitable shelter.

Animal Justice is calling on authorities to investigate these incidents to determine whether animal cruelty laws were broken—namely Alberta’s Animal Protection Act and the federal Criminal Code. The distress, injuries, and death suffered by horses at these chuckwagon events was unnecessary, unacceptable, and entirely avoidable.

Hundreds of horses have been killed at chuckwagon races in Canada over the last several decades, with countless others suffering serious injuries. Chuckwagon races are highly stressful for the horses involved, as they race at high speeds under dangerous conditions, cheered on by hundreds or even thousands of spectators. Moreover, these events are increasingly out of step with Canadians’ values, with 62% of people opposed to using animals in rodeos.

The incidents at High River and Red Deer serve as grisly reminders that chuckwagon racing and other rodeo events often cause extreme distress, suffering and even death for the animals involved.  It’s high time that we stop these cruel and unnecessary spectacles once and for all. In the meantime, it is important that law enforcement officials hold rodeo participants and organizers accountable when animals are killed and injured in the name of human entertainment.

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