Chuckwagon carnage: Calgary Stampede blames the horse!

By David J. Climenhaga | July 14, 2012

“Autopsy shows lead horse in chuckwagon accident died of ruptured aortic aneurysm,” shouts a headline in yesterday’s Calgary Herald.

So… what? The Calgary Stampede’s going to blame the chuckwagon crash that killed three horses Thursday night on “equine error”? Shoulda seen a vet, that dumb hoss…

Have you noticed that in such situations it’s usually the driver that gets blamed? If a passenger jet skids off the runway with fatal results, it’s pilot error. If a bus plunges into a ravine, it’s the driver’s mistake. If a kid piles an ATV into a tree, well, he was inexperienced and wasn’t wearing a helmet. Not our fault! It’s reassuring to consumers, and, more important, may limit the liability of the company that serviced the jet in China, sold the ATV, or whatever.



  1. Horses are not made for extreme sports. The person has a choice to participate, the animal does not. (eg, bullfighting). Now they are talking about breeding a superhorse that can withstand all this concussion and stress. Why? And most sickening are the breeders of these horses, the drivers and riders, who claim they love these horses like their own children. Then why do they put their horses in harm’s way?

  2. Sharon · ·

    Hickstead’s death was preventable…….the courses of competition are designed for the ultimate test of a horse capabilities…the designers of these courses actually brag about the difficulty the horse has to face…..jumping horses at Hickstead’s age is criminal. Using thoroughbreds to careen down the track to harm and injury proves that Calgarians need to do search for their conscience because they obviously lost in along the trail somewhere……

    1. “jumping horses at Hickstead’s age is criminal.” Beth Underhill showed Monopoly until he was 18. Many horses can and do show well into their 20’s.
      LOL. I guess Flexible’s rider, Rich Fellers, should be charged with cruelty, then. How could he win the World Cup on an old horse! Ridiculous. It’s hopeless, really. You guys are ruining what little chance the horses have. Hickstead died doing what he loved to do. Did you work with Sticks? Did you have ANYthing to do with his training and care? Of course not. His death was a tragedy, but it sure as hell wasn’t an expected occurrence, unlike the Chucks, where death is just around the corner.
      You should try doing something you love. You’ll want to do it until you die.
      Of course the highest levels of show-jumping have extremely difficult courses, what do you want, 2’6″ classes for everyone?
      Good grief. Buy a clue or two.

      Far too many of you have NO horse background. If you don’t know horses, maybe you should stick to dogs and cats.

      1. A lot of people have a horse background and do have a “clue” while watching the arrogant abuse of the horses in many disciplines. Some of us choose to speak up about it while others are determined to just use and use the horse regardless of the consequences to the horse.

      2. A lot of people have a horse background and have a “clue” while watching arrogant “horse people” use and use the horse until they’re all used up.

      3. As an owner of 9 horse…4 are off-track I feel I do know a little about the heart of a horse. If your truly love something why would you put in an any danger? Until a horse can TELL me that it loves being on a long line going around in circles day after day….running around in circles attached to a wagon ect….then & only then will I say that they love what they do. They have no choice in the matter! We all know what happens to those horses that do not conform to their so-called training. Those that ACCEPT their training methods are celebrated & …then the PRESSURE is on. So many show horses ect with ulcers & on ulcer meds…..Hickstead was at Guelph University being treated for colic. I simply love my horses & they love me back…that is all I have ever asked of them. You would be surprised at how just that simplicity makes them WANT to do what you ask of them. So then add all the training (practiced by many trainers)… literally have that animal in your pocket, trying with all its heart to please you. Once I have the heart of a horse I would never ask ANYTHING that would put EXTRA pressure……the results of this pressure is evident at every racetrack, rodeo ect & ends with the death of the so-called loved animal!

  3. I didn’t notice the Stampede stopping the show out of respect for the downed horse. Hickstead’s death was a tragedy, and he alone died. A chuckwagon horse’s death is a given. Tying old horses together in that heat, running at full-speed? Just an accident wanting to happen. Three horses died, because one broke down. Great odds there.

  4. Teresa Heaney · ·

    Of course, the lead horse died from that. Horses being forced to run at full speed around a track are going to have heart attacks. Jumping horses like Hickstead are forced too hard too. The Calgary Stampede is going to continue to give its excuses for animal cruelty but it’s not just there. Anytime we force the animals to push themselves like that there are risks, to the animal. Then when they’re all used up they are send for slaughter. The Calgary stampede Ranch sends at least twenty a year if they don’t want to buck, Young, healthy stock. But they don’t want that on the front page do they?

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