Montreal

Death of horse at Saint-Tite event renews calls to cancel Montreal rodeo

The death of a horse during an event put on by the Festival western de Saint-Tite has renewed calls in Montreal for its urban rodeo event to be cancelled.

Mayor Denis Coderre says urban rodeo will go on, despite death

Rodeo events in Saint-Tite have been the target of repeated criticism from animal rights advocates. (Radio-Canada)

The death of a horse during an event put on by the Festival western de Saint-Tite has renewed calls in Montreal for its urban rodeo planned for Montreal's 375th birthday celebrations this summer to be cancelled.

The rider had just been ejected from the horse when the animal suddenly fell to ground. The horse, named Grady, appeared to have a spinal cord injury.

"We think that the animal was bucking, was performing, and some kind of nerve pinched in his back, and that's what caused his fall to the ground," said Grady's owner, Sylvain Bourgeois.

Bourgeois says the veterinary team was quick to react but was unable to prevent the horse's death.

"We thought we could save him," he said. "But he died."

​Montreal's urban rodeo will go on, Coderre says

Animal rights advocates say this latest incident proves that rodeos can be dangerous and cruel for animals.

They are renewing their calls for Montreal to cancel its urban rodeo, set for Aug. 24 to 27.

But Mayor Denis Coderre says that is not happening.

I don't see any reason why we need to change any ideas right now.- Mayor Denis Coderre

"What it shows again is that you have veterinarians who ... are professionals who surrounded the event," he said.

"So we'll pick it up from there, but I don't see any reason why we need to change any ideas right now."

For his part, Bourgeois said Grady's death is sad but does not prove that the use of bucking horses in rodeos is unsafe.

"[This death] is not a proof at all that it is dangerous for animals," he said in a news conference Monday.

"I've been here 22 years. We've had here in the festival over 50,000 [events] with animals, and we've had six incidents in that period of 22 years."

Sylvain Bourgeois, Grady's owner, says he's rarely seen a horse death in his 22 years of being involved in rodeos. (Radio-Canada)
SPCA advocacy director Alanna Devine says she's saddened by Coderre's reaction but not surprised.

"What more do we need to demonstrate that rodeos subject animals to fear, stress and completely unnecessary undue risk of injury?" she said.

An injunction was filed last week by a group of Université de Montréal students, in an attempt to have Montreal's rodeo cancelled.

With files from the CBC's Sudha Krishnan

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