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Why do we mistreat horses so?

July 13, 2012

I’ll start off by saying I don’t like the idea of the Calgary Stampede and its events. I don’t see a need for it, and more generally I’m not a fan of ‘sports’ that involve horses in general.

I think that things like the flank strap used in bronco (and bull) bucking is cruel (and if it’s not a flank strap the animals are irritated by electric shocks or twisting their tails). These animals are generally domesticated and tame. How can anyone justify causing an animal pain for entertainment? Especially when that entertainment involves that horse bucking uncontrollably. That’s a lot of animal to be throwing around.

I think that over 3000 horse deaths in harness racing in a 5 year period is horrible. The article I linked to noted that as a percentage of ‘starters’ that is ‘only’ .125 percent that die. Sure it seems small, but let’s compare that to ‘starters’ in the NHL. Say each team has 25 players, and they play 82 regular season games, and there are 30 teams. That works out to 61500 starters. And using the ‘low’ .125 percentage, we should expect 77 NHL players a year to die from playing hockey or neglect or abuse.

(Have you ever seen video of the horses they need to euthanize on the track? Horses that fall and injure themselves and then struggle to get back up and continue racing and injure themselves further. It’s something I never want to see again.)

Steeplechase? Sounds wonderful, has an average horse death of 4 horses per thousand. (.4%) But the Grand National event averaged 6 deaths per 439 horses between 2000 and 2010.(That weird figure translates to 1.4% Over 1 in 100 of the horses that started this event died.) Go ahead, read how those animals died. Let’s apply that figure to the similarly named Athletics event the 3000m steeplechase. The men’s and women’s events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics had a total of 121 ‘starters’. Would we consider it ‘routine’ if somewhere between 1 and 2 of them died at the event? (121*.014=1.69400)

And now we come to the reason the Stampede is in the news and what prompted this post, the death of three horses (one by aneurysm, two as a result of the crash) last night at the chuckwagon races. Really? Chuckwagons? When, where and how does this in anyway reflect any sort of farm or western reality? When was the last time anyone out there needed to suddenly break camp, stow their gear and head out hell bent for leather? Think they did it in their chuckwagon or their trusty Ford? And if they did do it by chuckwagon, do you really think thoroughbreds were hauling it? Didn’t think so. It’s unnecessarily dangerous to the animals. You want to preserve your heritage? Put one of those wagons on display like everyone else does with their relics. Heck I’m sure you’ve got old footage of the races, show those. A bit of nostalgia for us all.

It has been reported that over 50 horses have died at this event since 1986. That’s what? Almost 2 a year? Let’s compare this to football, take the NFL, heck take the Superbowl and have two players a year die. Is it still entertainment? No. Would there be cries for reform? Hell yes. And they are grown men who have the choice to participate. These horses don’t.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. smothermother permalink
    July 17, 2012 8:43 am

    well said.

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