"The most barbaric, inhumane spectacle of the twentieth century... an affront to all cowboys, equestrians and humanitarians." - Dr. Michael Fox, former V.P., Humane Society of the United States.
Omak is a small town in Eastern Washington State. Every year the local rodeo, called the Omak Stampede, boasts of its main attraction "The World-Famous Omak Suicide Race." The race regularly and routinely kills horses.
Over a span of four days and nights, riders repeatedly send horses off "Suicide Hill" with a 120-foot full-galloping start. Horses plunge blindly more than 210 feet downhill, at a slope organizers have boasted is an "almost vertical 62 degree angle." At breakneck speed horses then meet, with concrete force, the rocky Okanogan River. After a panicked swim of more than a football field in length, the horses face a final, grueling uphill sprint.
These horses, many 'on-loan' for the event, have suffered heart attacks from over exertion, broken bones from collisions and shocking tumbles, and even horrifying death by drowning.
For the past 21 years, PAWS has been monitoring the race and working to raise awareness and evoke action to end it. In that time, 20 deaths have been documented; in 2004, three horses were killed in the first heat alone. When will they stop calling it a Suicide Race and start calling it murder?