The numbers may be low in the grande scheme of things, but having been witness to several incidents that ended with a bullet to the head, I can't say I'm opposed to the concept of a ban.
The recent deaths of three more horses in a chuck wagon-racing accident at the Calgary Stampede has renewed demands by animal-welfare advocates to ban the event and I'm thinking if not a ban, then at the very least come up with something to make it all a bit safer.
Celebrating it's hundredth year this year, the Calgary Stampede has seen the deaths of about 50 horses since 1986 in chuck wagon racing, including four in 2010 and two last year. Again, that's not a ridiculously high number given the amount of races and the length of time that has passed but it's just sad and I wonder why we keep it up when we know what the outcome at most events will be. I've seen it in Calgary and I've seen it happen right here in Yorkton.
There I was, sitting at my very first rodeo, as excited as the rest of the crowd to take in the racing action. Off goes the horn, out come the horses, around the barrels they fly and down the track, hooves pounding... and then comes the crash... I look on pretty horrified as a I see a tangle, bloody heap of horses – some struggling to get free, others lying lifeless. And then a tarp goes up, followed by gunshots... Not a great rodeo impression but I give the event another whirl at another time. This one isn't chuck wagon related I have to say but it was unpleasant just the same. Into the arena jumped a hyped up bull and rider. The bull kicked up his heels about twice before there was a loud snapping noise. Both bull and rider fell to the ground, the rider severely injured and the bull – back broken, just like that. Up went the tarp... I'd like to say that was the last time I've seen such things happen but it wasn't...
I know we're talking about a sporting event that's been around forever. People love the action. I also know that these horses are bred to race and it's in their blood, but can't we stick to the races where there's less potential for them to wind up in a tangled, deadly heap? At the very least, can't we overhaul the way these events are set up to make them safer?
I'm aware there are dangers lurking everywhere and accidents do happen, but if can do something to prevent them, why wouldn't we at least take a look at that option?