What steer wrestler Casey Martin described as a “pretty normal run” ended in tragedy Saturday at the Calgary Stampede, with veterinarians forced to euthanize a steer due to a severe neck injury.
It’s the first animal death in nine days of action at the rodeo, although one chuckwagon horse died in a training incident.
"I’ve been steer wrestling for probably 17 years now, and I’ve only seen it happen one other time that I can recall," said Martin, a 32-year-old cowboy from Sulphur, La.
"It’s very rare."
In steer wrestling, a cowboy leaves his seat on a horse, grabs a steer by its horns and turns the animal on its side.
Martin’s 4.3-second run in Saturday’s wildcard round seemed routine, but he immediately signalled for the veterinary staff when the steer didn’t spring back to its feet and later helped carry the 400-lb. animal out of the infield on a stretcher.
According to Greg Evans, the lead veterinarian for the Calgary Stampede rodeo and GMC Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races, the steer was inspected prior to Saturday’s performance and there was no reason for concern. There will be further examination for any pre-existing health conditions that could have caused the injury, plus a review of slow-motion footage of the incident.
"It was a surprise to see that steer not get up," Evans said.
"It appeared to be a normal run. There was no obvious abnormal positioning of the animal at the time of the fall."
There was a similar incident during the 2013 Calgary Stampede, with a steer euthanized after a run by Zane Hankel of Redcliff, Alta.