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Rule changes have been introduced for this year’s Calgary Stampede (8-17 July) in Canada after six horses died at the event last year.

The changes, designed to improve safety, will be implemented into the Rangeland Derby — chuckwagon races — and the rodeo.

Four horses died in separate incidents in the chuckwagon races and two more as part of the rodeo in 2010.

Paul Rosenberg, vice-president of programming, told local press: “Our goal at the Stampede is to always have a safe and exciting show. We based the changes on a continuous review on what we could do to provide a safe and competitive environment. I think for the most part, the rule changes will be well-received.”

The number of outriders in the chuckwagon races will be reduced from four to two — meaning two riders and a driver in a team which will reduce the number of horses on the track. All horses will be checked before and after the races and enhanced track maintenance is also to be enforced.

Patricia Cameron from the Calgary Humane Society added: “We’ve been working with the Stampede over the past decade, working on safety issues with animals. We’re glad they’re taking a leadership role.”