We are about 1/2 way through the 2010 Calgary Stampede. Each year there are countless stories that come out of animal cruelty and abuse. Today, yet another story was released about 4 horses that were killed or euthanize yesterday at the Stampede.
In all 4 of these situations these animals were doing what they love to do and were born to do. Two of the incidents happened because of heart attacks, another because of a shoulder injury and the fourth was a horse that suffered a broken back.
In the case of the 2 chuckwagon horses that were put down these animals are lucky to be where they are. Most chuckwagon horses come from the race track after a few years of running. Drivers will purchase horses off the track and train them to be wagon horses. If they do not make a wagon horse, they will then use them for an outriding horse. In both situations, the horses are doing what they were bred and love to do. RUN! Majority of these horses would be sent to the slaughter house, and their lives ended years earlier if it was not for the chuckwagon drivers taking them into their care.
The same goes for the horse that suffered a heart attack in the cattle penning. These horses are bred to work cattle and livestock. They love to do that. This situation is extremely unfortunate in that a young woman was hurt in this accident.
The final situation of a horse having to be euthanize at the Stampede is really a fluke situation. In the Novice Saddlebronc riding, a young horse had lost his rider and continued to buck. The horse bucked so hard that he broke his back. This is yet another case of an animal doing what he is born, bred, and loves to do. How many times have we all seen a horse bucking in the field. It is a natural thing for these animals to do.
Yes the loss of these animals are unfortunate but I think that there are a few things that the articles have been missing.
The first is that these animals are athletes. Like any other athlete in the world, they are given the best care possible. Many of them are worth tens of thousands of dollars. Not only that but they are irreplaceable, and become part of your family. Now if I had something that valuble, and emotionally meant the world to me, why would I subject that animal to anything but the very best care in the world?
I remember one year while we were showing cattle at the Calgary Stampede, my grandpa, who was the barn boss at the time, was asked to do an interview with a major news outlet. During the Stampede, it can get extremely hot, especially out on the cement. This day was no exception, having temperatures into the high 30's (90-100 F). They started the interview outside in the heat. The journalist was probing asking about the unfair conditions of the animals, how cruel we treat the animals, and how we should be ashamed for doing this to our animals.
After 20 minutes in the heat, they proceeded into the cattle barn. The barn was shaded, cattle were under fans, getting bathed daily, and under spa like conditions. They were fed and watered better then most people on the midway, comfortable and not hot, basically living the dream. Lets just say that it did not take the journalist long to see that her point of view might have been wrong.
I have no problem with people standing up for animal welfare. I am a strong believer that animals should be treated fairly, and receive the best care possible. In saying that, I also believe that animals should be able to take part in what is natural to them. This includes running, bucking, and sorting cattle.
I strongly encourage people to look beyond that messages that are flooded to the masses during a rodeo or livestock show. Do some research for yourself. Find out what is really happening, and how these animals are being treated. Majority of the time you may be surprised just how good they have it.