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article imageAnimal deaths, human injuries cast shadow over Calgary Stampede

By Stephanie Dearing     Jul 17, 2010 in Entertainment
Calgary - With the deaths of two other horses this past week, the Calgary Stampede has now had six horses die during activities, nearly rivalling 2005's high death toll when 9 horses died in a tragic plunge over a bridge.
With a midway ride accident that happened on Friday night, 2010 is looking like one of the worst on record for the Calgary Stampede in terms of animal deaths and human injuries. CTV reports that ten people were injured in Friday's midway accident when a ride broke. Six people were taken to hospital for treatment, while four others were treated at the scene.
The Calgary Sun reported the victims were aged between 11 and 19 years old, and were riding on the Scorpion. From what the Sun reports, the accident caused some pandemonium around the ride, but other operators did not stop their rides. Stampede officials issued a statement expressing their regrets for the accident, saying the next step would be to determine the cause of the accident.
The accident caps a tough week for horses at the Stampede. Six have died in the week-long event which ends Sunday. After four horses died between Sunday and Monday, animal rights activists were more vocal than ever, saying the deaths were sadly inevitable. But the activism, which gained new life with the two latest horse deaths, appears to be pulling the cowboy community together. The Toronto Star reported activist Lisa Shaw said “We're told we're weak-kneed vegetarians and they try to reflect the reality which is cruelty to the animals. We're told again and again they love their animals but they cannot answer why they continue to throw them in harm's way by having them compete for entertainment.”
On Friday, some cowboys along with a group of wives held pink signs that said "We love animals and rodeo" in a show of support for the Stampede reported the Calgary Herald. The Herald spoke with some unnamed rodeo veterans who said the big cash prizes offered to winners of the Stampede events -- worth a total of $2 million -- put a certain pressure on competitors to win.
Stampede officials continue to defend the rodeo, saying it reflects the Western ranch life. Other agricultural celebrate the work of farming with events such as the Royal Winter Fair, which does not hold sports competitions with animals at the level of the Stampede, although there are competitions such as My Giant Vegetable Competition, which admittedly does not offer the same amount of excitement to viewers as bull riding.
Ontario is home to the International Plowing Match, an event which also celebrates agricultural traditions. the most harrowing event of the Match is the plowing competition. This year's Match will be held in September in Elgin-St. Thomas.
The deaths of the horses did not put a damper on attendance at the Calgary Stampede, which has seen nearly one million people attend so far this year.
More about Calgary stampede, Animal rights, Amusement park, Injuries, Midway accident
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