16 July 2007

Death on the track

In my last post, I said I was one Calgarian who tried to ignore the Stampede and the accompanying yee-hawing. It isn't easy as the exhibition and rodeo grounds are practically across the street from me. Not is it easy when animals continue to be sacrificed for fun and profit.

On Saturday night the chuckwagon races claimed the lives of three more horses, making it 11 in the last six years, almost two a year.

The man who caused the crash that resulted in the deaths, Kelly Sutherland, a veteran racer described as an "icon" in the Calgary Herald, was suspended for one day.
Stampede senior manager Lindsey Galloway believes the suspension "sends a strong signal to everybody involved that [the Stampede] will not tolerate anything that compromises the safety of animals and competitors." The man whose horses died as a result of Sutherland's misconduct, Gary Gorst, doesn't agree. He says it feels like a slap in the face to him and insists Sutherland should be banned from racing for life. Animal rights activists suggest it's chuckwagon racing that should be banned.

But that isn't going to happen. Stampede management says ending the races isn't even up for discussion. And the attitude of the racers seems to be shit happens, life goes on. Racer Wayne Knight says, "We feed those horses and look after them just like kids." We can only hope Mr. Knight and his fellow racers wouldn't enter their kids in an event that killed two children a year.

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