New rodeo chutes steel offers updated safety features
It may be the 101st year for the Calgary Stampede, but it is the first year for the newly installed rodeo chutes that take centre stage at the Infield.
Incorporating the latest technology and features, the new steel system for rodeo pens and chutes is specially-designed to anticipate and head off any potential snags or opportunities for risk to both riders and livestock. The new system was suggested to the Stampede by independent livestock handling specialist Jennifer Woods.
“This new steel meets every item on my wish list for features and safety considerations,” says Woods.
The new gates feature higher bars with less spacing between them, which minimizes the chance of a rearing bull or horse catching its hooves between the bars. In addition, the new safety spring-loaded latches are much easier to open if a bull or horse leans into the gate. Rubber safety pads absorb an excited animal’s kick. New grooved cement flooring packed down with infill give bulls and horses secure footing in the chutes. The steel panels all match from the animals’ pens, into the chutes, the arena and back again, which means the animal will not be spooked by seeing anything new or unexpected.
"The entire system is designed to ensure the animals feel calm and secure. When you're not dealing with a horse having issues, your riders are going to be just fine,” says Woods.
The new system replaces 30-year-old steel that remained very safe and functional. Even so, updating the new chutes aligns with the Stampede’s goal of doing everything possible to eliminate any foreseeable risks to animal and human health.
“The number of chute-related injuries was very low,” says Dr. Greg Evans, Calgary Stampede head veterinarian. “But anytime there’s new technology available, we think it’s the responsible thing…to upgrade.”
The Stampede closely tracks the number of times something goes wrong in the chutes (like a hoof getting caught,) and will continue to do so as part of a commitment to continual improvements. The Stampede will also track the ease and speed of moving bucking stock into position, anticipating the new chutes are likely to improve this.
The cost of the new steel and improvements to the Infield total $500,000.
The new rodeo chutes are just one piece of the Stampede’s comprehensive animal care program. You can learn more about the Stampede’s animal care program on our animal care YouTube channel.