In what seems like an annual event the animal lovers are once again up in arms concerning the treatment of horses and other livestock at the largest Stampede in North America. And seemingly every year something happens to add fuel to this smoldering fire.

Last night a crash occurred in the ever popular Chuck Wagon races that resulted in the death of  two horses. Tyler Helmig, a 45-year-old driver from Leduc, Alberta, was thrown from his chuckwagon after a violent collision with the already downed lead team of horses of Gary Gorst as they rounded the first turn of the seventh heat. Tyler was taken to hospital with some broken bones, but his injuries are not thought to be life threatening. That is better than the fate of two of the horses, one died almost immediately from the impact, and the other had to be euthanized because of a broken leg.

The Chucks are an inherently dangerous sport, lots of horses, riders, and equipment in a confined space going hell for leather! The driver has made a conscious decision to be part of the spectacle, but as the animal activists convincingly argue, the horses have not.

I have to think that with such wide coverage of the Stampede in the worldwide media that events like this must be putting a severe strain on continuing some of the events. There has been criticism for many of the events held. Calf roping while exciting, fast, and a true demonstration of synchronicity between man and horse, would seem to offer little fun for the calf as it gets lassoed, brought to the ground and hog tied.

Then there is the bull riders, at first sight there seems to be little wrong with this ‘sport’, lets face it the bull is way bigger than the guy with the IQ that matches his Stetson size. Who in their right mind would want to climb on one of these grumpy animals? And yes, most of the injuries incurred are to the guy with the concussion induced diminishing IQ. However if you look into the ‘sport’ a little deeper you find a very interesting aspect, what makes the Bull grumpy? Well it might have something to do with the rope tied around a certain very delicate, and in a bulls life important part of its anatomy, and the rider who is pulling the damn rope! Now that would make me pretty damn grumpy as well!

The Calgary Stampede has a long history, and from a revenue perspective represents millions of dollars every year from the worldwide visitors it attracts. The question though, is in this ‘politically Correct’ world we live in just how much longer can it remain in its current form?

Simon Barrett



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