Teams compete in a chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Monday, July 12, 2010. A University of Calgary study measuring heart rates and electrical activity could eventually reduce deaths of chuckwagon horses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Teams compete in a chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Monday, July 12, 2010. A University of Calgary study measuring heart rates and electrical activity could eventually reduce deaths of chuckwagon horses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Horse put down following injury during Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

A horse has been killed after it was injured in a chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede.

Organizers say in a statement that the horse on Cody Ridsdale’s team was hurt during the fourth heat of Thursday night’s competition.

Following a veterinary assessment, the owner decided it would be humane to euthanize the animal.

Chuckwagon races returned to the Stampede after missing the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six horses died in 2019, which led animal rights groups to raise concerns about horses that suffer fractured legs, broken backs and heart attacks.

The Stampede has said that this year it brought in new safety measures for horses, which include reducing the number of wagons to three from four on the track for each heat.

Researchers at the University of Calgary are also looking at ways to improve the health, safety and performance of horses at the Stampede, including the surfaces chuckwagon horses run on and whether there’s a way to reduce leg fractures.

“We are looking at track conditions and the effect of different footings — at varying depths and levels of hardness — on the impact of legs,” Dr. Renaud Leguillette, a professor in the faculty of veterinary medicine, said in a news release earlier this week.

He said the track is one of the parameters that could be controlled to prevent leg fractures.

Chuckwagon races are a nightly spectacle during the 10-day Stampede, which ends Sunday. Crowds watch each evening as horse-drawn wagons thunder around a dirt track accompanied by outriders.