An article in an Alberta magazine has revealed that the Calgary Stampede sends young, healthy horses to slaughter if they can’t make the grade as bucking horses for the Stampede rodeo. (CTV News is running a report on the revelations.)
The current issue of Alberta Views carries a story by journalist Curtis Gillespie about animal care at the Stampede. In it, Gillespie asks staff at the Calgary Stampede ranch (which breeds and raises bucking horses for the rodeo) about the fate of bucking horses not good enough to perform at the Stampede. Here is a passage from the article:
I asked what happens to those horses that simply aren’t suited to bucking, that aren’t naturals? “We usually just keep ’em around,” Marrington said. “A lot of mares go into the breeding program, even if they can’t buck, because we know they’re genetically good. We do cull, no question about that. But the fact is, you can get some young horses, for whatever reason, that fight the chute, or are just bad, and they could hurt cowboys with no ability, and they’ll just run over you. And they’re disposed of, and that’s all I’m going to tell you. They’re out of the system, out of the inventory. It’s inventory in, inventory out.”
The next day, I asked ranch manager Raymond Goodman how many times, on average, a young horse is dummied before a decision is made to remove it from the bucking program.
“Usually three or four times,” he said.
“And if they’re mares, they go back into the breeding program?”
“And what about geldings and studs?” I asked. “They’re culled?”
“And they go where? Fort MacLeod?”
“Yup, Fort MacLeod.”
Fort McLeod is the site of a slaughterhouse run by Bouvry Exports Ltd., where many horses are sent for slaughter. The plant was the subject of an investigation by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition in 2010, which found evidence that horses were being killed inhumanely. The CHDC revealed video footage showing horses at the slaughterhouse being shot and then hoisted away by their legs while still fully conscious.
Please let the Stampede’s chief executive, Vern Kimball, know what you think about this.