Marni Soupcoff says the chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede should be cancelled because the latest accident, in which three horses died, prove that the sport is just too inherently risky to the horses involved to justify continuing the tradition.
All horse sport is risky, because for all their size and power, horses are actually quite fragile animals in crucial parts of their bodies — mainly in their feet and leg tendons and ligaments. Chuckwagon races may exhibit somewhat elevated risks, but there is no horse sport that has none (including Dressage, where overtraining can produce injuries, and where one could argue that horses’ natural need for liberty is so curtailed at the upper echelons of the sport in order to protect these valuable animals that it is a form of abuse).
My daughter was involved at a fairly high competitive level in the sport of Three-Day Eventing. Part of that discipline requires the horses to jump over huge, fixed jumps on a cross-country course. That is, unlike jumping in a stadium, where the rails fall down if the horse doesn’t clear the jump, three-day event horses meet an irresistible force. They often fall as a result and sometimes hurt themselves badly. Sometimes on hot days they get so dehydrated they “tie up” and experience great pain, or even die.