Two horses have died during Stock Show events this year — a highly unusual occurrence, according to data and a professional rodeo official who oversees animal welfare.
The latest was a bucking horse that died Sunday night after crashing into a wall and suffering a spinal cord injury during a saddle bronc event at Will Rogers Coliseum, Stock Show spokesman Matt Brockman said.
A horse also died of a similar injury during a saddle bronc event at the rodeo Jan. 16, Brockman said.
Video of Sunday’s incident was shot by Bruce Weidner, a rodeo fan from Benbrook.
The footage shows the horse — a 9-year-old named Treasure of Patience, Brockman said — bucking straight toward a wall and crashing into it head-first as the eight-second buzzer sounds. The rider managed to grab the fence on the wall without getting injured.
The horse fell to the ground, rolling on its side and kicking its legs
“I want everybody to relax,” the announcer told the crowd. “The first, best medicine is prayer.”
About 10 rodeo workers then rushed to the horse and rolled it onto an orange mat. A tractor pulled the horse and the mat out of the arena grounds. The horse was motionless on the mat, except for the twitch of its tail.
Weidner, who has attended hundreds of rodeos, said fans were shocked when the horse hit the wall.
“You don’t normally think about the animals getting hurt,” Weidner said. “It’s always the riders getting hurt. It’s normally man against beast, and this time the beast lost.”
Brockman, the Stock Show spokesman, said in a statement that Stock Show grounds are staffed 24 hours a day with a licensed veterinarian.
“Rodeo staff are trained to provide rapid response treatment and ensure proper animal safety and care,” his statement said.
Animal deaths in competition are “very, very rare, especially to have two at the same rodeo,” said Jed Pugsley, the livestock program administrator for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
The injury rate for animals is typically less than 0.0005 percent, according to surveys completed at each PRCA event, including the Stock Show, Pugsley said.
The injury rate is determined by the number of injuries out of all “animal exposures,” Pugsley said, which are tallied each time an animal participates in an event. Animal exposures each year can total up to 75,000, according to past surveys.