Calgary – The Calgary Stampede has received the results of the autopsy on the horse that collapsed. “The left lead horse experienced a ruptured aortic aneurism, leading to sudden internal bleeding and explains why the horse faltered, weakened and then collapsed,” says Dr. Greg Evans, chief veterinarian for the Calgary Stampede.


“This pre-existing condition is undetectable in animals and could have ruptured at any time of exercise,” explains Dr. Evans. “The condition is a weakening in the wall of the aorta--the major vessel leading from the heart. This area of weakened wall can rupture and the horse then bleeds out internally. The rupture occurred in the abdomen, which explains the hind limb weakness noted in the horse prior to the collapse.”


The condition was quickly diagnosed upon autopsy, and the result has been communicated to Chad Harden, the driver and owner of the horse. “I would like to thank the pathologist for the expedient nature of the examination,” adds Dr. Evans.


Toxicology and drug testing will be conducted to determine if any other factors were present in the horse. The Stampede will use the results of the autopsy to determine possible improvements to our Fitness to Compete program, which screens all horses by giving them a thorough inspection by a team of veterinarians upon arrival at Stampede Park and prior to competition. Under the program, drivers must submit an inventory of horses for competition and the inventory of horses will be subject to ongoing veterinarian inspections. If a horse is found not fit to compete, it will not be permitted to race that evening. In 2011, about four percent of some 550 horses were not allowed to race due to various injuries or conditions.


The Calgary Stampede, and the people who bring their animals to the Stampede, care deeply about the welfare and well-being of those animals. The Stampede works collaboratively to mitigate risks to human and animal competitors.  


Dr. Greg Evans will be available for interviews today at 6:45 p.m. in front of the Rodeo Office at Stampede Park.



For more information, please contact:


Doug Fraser, Media Relations Manager

Calgary Stampede

T 403.261.0242

C 403.585.3376