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Three chuckwagon horses have been euthanized following the final night of racing, reports CTV News Alberta, bringing the death toll of this year’s Rangeland Derby.
The latest three deaths were caused by the injury a single horse, Evan Salmond’s right, that fractured its left hind cannon bone in the middle of Heat 8. The injury caused an immediate collision on the track wherein two more of his horses sustained serious injuries.
Despite veterinary medical treatment, all three horses needed to be put down, likely unable to walk again after their injuries.
The first horse casualty came on Monday when Troy Dorchester’s horse shockingly collapsed in the middle of the Heat 2, having shown no obvious symptoms in two races only a week prior.
“Everybody here, you love horses, that’s why you do this,” said Dorchester in a CTV interview. It was a tough night and a tough morning walking in the barn. We’re assuming it’s a heart attack,” he added. “We haven’t had the results back yet.”
Unfortunately, such collapses are common for racehorses when they are pushed to their athletic limits repeatedly, especially when the horse in question is fourteen.
A second horse, belonging to Obrey Motowylo, died Wednesday after sustaining a fracture to its left front radius, which required euthanasia thereafter.
Finally, another horse died on Thursday after Chad Harden made a series of errors that led to a major crash resulting in the death of one of Evan Salmond’s horses.
On Friday, Chairman Mike Whittle gave this statement on the matter:
After conducting our review, the safety commission has determined that Chad Harden’s actions were responsible for impeding another driver, Danny Ringuette, causing his wagon to collide with Evan Salmond’s wagon outfit on the inside rail of the race track in our ruling. Last night the incident that occurred was a result of driver error and that’s what we’ve determined and that’s why we’re moving forward as we have.
Harden has since been disqualified and fined $10,000 for his carelessness, as well as a possible ban from “competing at future Stampede Chuckwagon events”
The Stampede, which was brought in 1.27 million sports fans, the second highest in its history, has since closed.
Though exciting, certainly many of the fans will be saddened over the loss, but not more so than the owners who are sure to be still recovering and will be rebuilding their teams for weeks or months to come.