Montreal’s retired Old Port carriage horses relocated to Calgary Stampede chuck wagon races - The Beaverton
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Montreal’s retired Old Port carriage horses relocated to Calgary Stampede chuck wagon races

– A recently announced ban on horse-drawn carriages or “calèches” in the of Montreal has allowed calèche to move on to new and exciting careers in the chuck wagon races of the Stampede.

Initially the horses were concerned that they would be recycled into cat food, but now, in a move that emulates the migration of workers from the Maritimes, their lives of suffering in Montreal will be replaced with lives of suffering in Calgary.

“I worried whether retirement would be a big change for Sophie,” said Alain Bergeron, her groom at the Griffintown stables. “I thought she would go from her busy daily work life of nearly collapsing in the street to doing nothing in a field, or euthanasia. Now she will continue her active lifestyle by charging frantically around a dusty track while tethered to three other horses. It sounds exciting!”

“Fernando is a people horse,” said his driver, Martin Bourret. “He gave pleasure to tourists by sedately pulling them around the piping hot streets of Montreal in the crushing humidity of summer. Now he has a second chance to thrill tourist as they anticipate wagons crashing in a heap of limbs, and wondering whether a horse will be put down in sight of the grandstand. It’s the entertainment of a blood sport with the cover of pretending to enjoy the racing.”

Martin added: “To be honest, running in terror inches from other chuckwagons around a fenced-in track seems relaxing compared to Montreal traffic.”

At press time it was confirmed that Calgary restaurants would not follow the lead of trendy Montreal establishments by adding horse meat to their menu out of concern for animal cruelty.

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