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Eight horses die after being spooked in trail ride ahead of Calgary Stampede

July 3rd, 2005, 08:44 PM
CALGARY - Eight of the Calgary Stampede's prized rodeo horses died Sunday when they tumbled off a bridge into the Bow River near the end of a 200-kilometre trail ride.

Stampede officials are trying to determine if more of the 200 animals on the trail ride perished.

They were being led by a chuckwagon over the Ogden Road bridge in the city's southeast end when some of the horses got spooked. The animals began thrusting forward and bunching up on the bridge, sending some of them tumbling into the water.

"We're still counting our animals," said Stampede spokesman Lindsey Galloway. "These are our star athletes. Suffice it to say it's a tragedy from our perspective."

The trail ride was organized to celebrate the province's centennial year as part of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, which begins Friday.

On Tuesday, 200 wild horses left from the Stampede Ranch near Hanna, Alta., led by a chuckwagon and accompanied by approximately 50 trail riders. They were to travel across open prairie land, stopping in several communities along the way. They were scheduled to arrive in Calgary on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Spectators had come out to watch the horses make their way through the city. The accident happened 10 minutes before they would have arrived at Stampede Park, Galloway said.

Trail riders roped some horses and pulled them from the river. Some of the animals managed to swim across to the river bank, while those that safely crossed the bridge were standing along the road, which was being blocked off along the way by police.

Several riders continued on to Stampede Park with the remaining horses, while others stayed behind to continue searching.

"They are really upset," Galloway said. "They got really close to these animals."

The wild horses, called bucking stock, are kept at Stampede Ranch in Hanna, northeast of Calgary, and normally transported to the Stampede in trailers. They take part in a number of events through the 10-day stampede, including the daily rodeos.

"The idea of the trail ride is to try and recreate some of the romance of the Old West," Galloway said.

The same route was taken for trail rides in 1987 and 2000 with no incidents, Galloway said. The animals travelled over the same bridge in 2000.

He said it's not known why the horses got spooked, but witnesses are being interviewed.

Galloway said the chuckwagon driver pulled his groin. No spectators or trail riders were injured


Just wondered if any of our Albertan (??) members can explain what happened here, if they have more info than the story is giving.
I'm not familiar with the area, how do that many horses die ...?

July 3rd, 2005, 11:27 PM
I have checked with the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun to see if there is any news about this but nothing is in print as of right now.
I can understand how they lost 8 and I am surprized that there weren`t more. The rivers are extremely high right now and the current is very strong. If they could not swim to shore they could very easily drown in the river.
This is very unfortunate as this is one of the traditions and is usually one of those events that the crowds love. I hope they didn`t lose any more.
If I find a report I will post it for you.

July 4th, 2005, 12:35 AM
Thank you Dogue, horses have a way of touching my heart, I hate hearing soo many were lost.

often times you will get stories like that on the internet, and not be able to follow up, cause the story stops being big news.

July 4th, 2005, 08:41 AM
Hope this link works. If not just log into the site and choose Calgary for the city.
The story is there.
Although this is very tragic, I hope the tradition continues as it has gone on twice before without incident. Maybe they could find an alternate "safer route" if they plan to do this again.
With the flooding that has been occuring, I wouldn`t doubt that it actually aided in them being able to save more by pulling them from the river. Had the water levels been normal I am sure more would have died.

July 4th, 2005, 08:49 AM
Those poor horses. It is bad enough they are subjected to the cruelty of the rodeo, and now this. :mad:

July 4th, 2005, 09:25 PM
Thanks for the link Dogue.
I find it hard to form an opinion on such things, to believe they could have been prevented or what not.
The statistics on the link, Worst animal deaths at the Calgary Stampede:
1986: a chuckwagon accident killed 11 horses
1995: three horses were killed in rodeo-related accidents
1999: one horse was killed in a chuckwagon spill
2002: five horses died; one calf was killed during a roping event
I find a little concerning, to say the least.

July 5th, 2005, 11:48 AM
and they wonder why most canadians are against the stampede, if you take notice at the stats for attendance, you'll see 65% of the people (visitors) are from outside of Canada.

July 5th, 2005, 12:28 PM
I saw on the news this morning the Alberta SPCA is asking Albertans to boycott the stampede. I have never been nor will I ever go.

July 16th, 2005, 07:59 PM
I have my own horse and no matter what, if you "know" what your doing or think you are on a "bomb proof" horse, things can happen. Any rider has to be ready at all times because you never know what is the the horses head. I don't agree with chuckwagon races myself, it's silly to say the least to try and get such a big rig to go to the speeds they do. In the "old Days" so to speak they didn't do that unless maybe under atttack, why would they do it now?? topic,sorry....

My point is even if a horse has done something 100 times, the next might be different in some way,and if one gets spooked it spreads like hell fire to those surrounding it, I don't know how many animals were envolved, but it is a shame to lose any. Non the less, it is not like it was a plan of action, and from what I have heard(may be spectulation??) all the riders were advanced not green so it could happen anywhere. I don't blame the stampede for it, accidents happen, that it, that's all.....