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ponyboy 07-13-2010 06:07 PM

Heart attacks and broken backs?
So, four horses have died at the Calgary stampede. One was euthanized due to an injury in the chuckwagon racing, which is hardly surprising. But two of the others were heart attacks - I find that odd since I didn't think horses had heart attacks that often. If they did I would expect to see more of it in eventing where horses are working hard. Could heat have been a factor??

Then there was a horse that broke its back after bucking without a rider - I guess the horse still thought the rider was there so it bucked harder than it should have without the added weight?? But a broken back just from bucking also seems strange to me.

Here's an article:

CBC News - Calgary - 4th Calgary Stampede horse dies

riccil0ve 07-13-2010 10:45 PM

Yes, heart attacks are very rare in horses. So rare that I bet it's pretty much impossible for more than one horse to have one on the same day in the same place. I bet it's more likely caused by heat exhaustion and/or drugs. As far as a broken back from bucking... I'm not sure how plausible that one is either. I know a rabbit can break it's back kicking, but a horse? It's more likely they managed to pull an important muscle or pinched a nerve that paralyzed them.

The article said [if I read right] all the deaths were caused by an assumed cause. I doubt any of them had a necropsy done yet, if they will at all. It was probably the best guess they had at the time.

MacabreMikolaj 07-13-2010 10:53 PM

As an interesting note, the chuckwagon horse with the shoulder injury was an OUTRIDER horse - not a part of the chuckwagon team. Which means a horse essentially got hurt galloping, by himself, down a straight track. Which could happen to any of us.

The one heart attack was 15 year old team penning horse - certainly plausible. You don't know if there was a heart condition present, and she wasn't a young horse. When a horse drops dead so suddenly she almost kills her rider, it's fairly limited into what happened and all of them quite rare. I would personally be ruling out drugs in this case as a drugged up penning horse isn't going to be useful to anyone. The chuckwagon pony who died of a heart attack in training, that could be another story?

It's a crying shame, but it happens. I won't even go on CBC anymore because I'm so tired of people screaming abuse. Horses die from the EXACT same accidents while racing, eventing, barrel racing, etc. There was no abuse occurring that could have possibly caused these deaths (with the potential exception of the chuckwagon pony).

I'll step right up and agree that I'm not fond of calf roping or even steer wrestling - twisting and snapping any animals neck probably shouldn't be happening for entertainment, regardless of how much they're "built to handle it". But if I hear one more person crying about the chuckwagon races I'm going to hurl - racehorses are injured and destroyed at an astronomical rate compared to chuckwagon ponies. Yeah there's a danger from having four 900 pound animals galloping in sync, but still less then asking a yearling TB to run full out on undeveloped joints.

I just get tired of it. The rodeo has been so badly tarnished and for no other reason then being SUCH a spectacle for city slickers who don't have a clue. If you see them bucking out a horse with a broken leg, SCREAM ABUSE. Don't try to accuse a poor woman in the hospital of abusing her 15 year old mare because she had a heart attack.

riccil0ve 07-13-2010 11:11 PM

Just so everyone knows, I'm not crying abuse either. It's certainly possible for horses to have heart attacks, just not very likely. I don't know how hot or humid it was, but I still think heat stroke is more likely than a heart attack. Unless, as Macabre mentioned, they had an underlying heart condition.

wyominggrandma 07-13-2010 11:36 PM

Last year at the county fair where I live, a young girl was doing a barrel run on her old horse(in the evening, so it was cool) and the horse dropped dead going around the 3rd barrel. He collapsed on the girl, luckily she was sore and bruised and scared, but not severly injured. The horse had been ridden all summer as usual, he just dropped.
A necropsy was done and he did die of a heart attack.

MacabreMikolaj 07-16-2010 12:24 AM


My aunt was judging at a show many years ago and actually had to witness a horse "dropping dead" in midair over a fence. The rider was quite badly injured and the necropsy showed a brain aneurysm. It's scary but it does happen! The news is reporting only on "apparant" heart attacks as it's probably topping the list of "sudden death" in horses but there are realistically many things that can cause sudden death.

We are also often unaware of underlying conditions as well. It's rare to encounter heart attacks but at such a large event you're bound to have drugged animals (probably the leading cause of heart attack in horses). So you just happened to finally have an event where an older mare turned up with an unknown heart condition and a drugged horse finally couldn't take anymore. Not saying that's what happened, just a possible scenerio as to the unlikelihood of two heart attacks in one place.

In more depressing news, a 5th horse has died, another chuckwagon pony. This one I'm suspicious about, and they're keeping quiet as well - apparently he was "stressed" after the race and the vet examined him. He died 40 minutes later. Healthy, fit animals don't just drop dead an hour after a race.

Peggysue 07-16-2010 05:31 PM

he very well could have coliced... not unheard of.

Hunter65 07-16-2010 06:03 PM

Unfortunately that number is now at 6, another one died last night.

ponyboy 07-16-2010 06:33 PM


Originally Posted by MacabreMikolaj (Post 690450)
It's a crying shame, but it happens. I won't even go on CBC anymore because I'm so tired of people screaming abuse. Horses die from the EXACT same accidents while racing, eventing, barrel racing, etc. There was no abuse occurring that could have possibly caused these deaths (with the potential exception of the chuckwagon pony).

I'm not fond of rodeos in general but in these cases I agree with you. It just seems to be bad luck. Though the latest chuckwagon death could be something else.

Juniper 07-16-2010 06:42 PM

wow, how did you find that out?

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