Here we go again—it is Calgary Stampede time, complete with the utter idiocy that is rodeo. Chuckwagon racing is a rodeo event, and it has been controversial for a long time now. And with good reason—every year, horses are killed in this event. It’s an utterly stupid event that for some reason has become accepted as a legitimate part of Alberta’s heritage and culture when in fact it is about nothing more than spectacle and thrills.
Chuckwagon driver Layne Bremner has spoken out about the death of one of his horses, a 10-year-old thoroughbred named Duke who was euthanized* after a crash on Saturday, July 4, saying that it feels like losing a family member. But you wouldn’t put a family member in danger for no other reason than entertaining the masses, would you Mr. Bremner? You wouldn’t exploit a family member and make money off their unnecessary and life-threatening labour, would you?
The injury that led to Duke’s being killed was due to a collision with another wagon, and Bremner has been fined $2,500 and received a five-second penalty for interference. I guess that’s all Duke’s life was worth.
The media has this to say about Duke’s death:
“The animal suffered a broken right hind leg and the decision was made to euthanize it.”
Sorry, Duke—you weren’t a “him”; you were an “it”.
As I said before, chuckwagon racing has long been controversial in this province. But rather than abolishing it, the Calgary Stampede has implemented typical welfarist measures that do nothing at all for the horses:
“To reduce crowding, the number of outriders alongside each competing chuckwagon was decreased to two from four.
All horses are micro-chipped to track their health and racing record and are not allowed to race more than three days in a row.
And each horse is inspected by veterinarians when the animals arrive at the Stampede, and before and after every race.
Stampede lead veterinarian Greg Evans says the horses are very well maintained and cared for. ‘In specific regard to chuckwagon racing compared to other sports, these horses are being cared for at an appropriate or above level ,’ he said.
‘Year over year, they get better and better and better and I just think that shows a level of commitment that is impressive to anyone that is a horse owner or horse lover.’
Well maintained and cared for…like a car. I treat my car pretty nicely, too, not because it has any inherent value or worth but because I use it for my own ends and if I don’t do maintenance, it won’t work for me. “Well maintained and cared for” means nothing other than a property owner taking good care of his property in order to keep using it. It says nothing of “love”. I don’t “love” my car, but I do take care of it.
No matter what stupid welfarist measures are implemented, these horses are always in danger of injury (broken legs are common), and once they are injured, they are useless to their owners and are killed.
These horses are used to make their owners money. They are not cherished family members—we don’t kill family members once they are no longer useful to us or making us money.
While many people continue to defend this ludicrous “sport”, there are some who don’t. I found the following gem (by ThinkorThwim) in the comments section and I think it’s an apt analogy:
“Tell me, would you consider a person who forced their daughter to play russian roulette for a chance at a million dollars of prize money someone who cared about their daughter? Even if they treated her like gold the rest of the time? Because with over 2 animal deaths on average every year, that’s essentially what these “caring” owners are doing.”
There is no excuse for using non-human animals for our own selfish ends. This needs to stop. It all needs to stop. If you think chuckwagon racing is wrong but you continue to eat, wear or otherwise use animals, you are exactly like the people who use and kill horses for the spectacle of these races.
Please, go vegan.
*Please note that this horse was killed, not euthanized. The leg could have been fixed, and this horse could have lived, but he was no longer going to make money for his owner and was therefore deemed a liability. To his owner, Duke’s life was not worth the money it would have taken to fix Duke’s leg. This was not euthanization.