In Defense of Animals
ida enews NW
IDA Home  |   Donate to IDA  |   Join our Action Center  |   Tell a Friend


Stop The Omak Suicide Race!

Next Scheduled Cruelty: August 6 - 9, 2009 - Letters And Phone Calls Needed

The Omak Suicide Race is the most disgusting part of the Omak Stampede, a rodeo held in a small town in eastern Washington since 1935. The race regularly and routinely kills horses. Just since 1984, there have been at least 20 documented horse deaths.Omak Suicide Race

After a galloping start, horses plunge over an almost vertical drop (62 degree angle) of about 225 feet. The horses do not realize where the ground is until it is rushing beneath them. They cannot see horses ahead of them. This is not professional riding or racing. This is documented cruelty as riders have a “no holds barred*” mentality that forces horses onward to win AT ANY COST. Horses are pushed to breakneck speed, with inevitable collisions and pile ups that cause serious injury or death. And that’s just the first leg.

At the bottom of the downhill charge, the horses are pushed to survive the swift current of the rocky, deep Okanogan River. Horses may have already sustained injuries from the steep downhill run of this race and then must brave the waters; horses have panicked and drowned. If they land sideways, which happens frequently if they lose balance, they can wrench their necks, causing severe neck and back injuries and further trauma. It takes far more energy to move through water than to gallop on land.

Omak Suicide RaceExhausted horses are pushed on to an uphill sprint another 500 yards. With this continuous overexertion, recovery is nearly impossible, and with reduced oxygen flow, muscles are doomed to permanent damage. The psychological trauma endured by the horses who are injured or survive is lifelong.

Thanks to PAWS for information used in this alert.




At the bottom of this e-mail is a list of sponsors of the Omak Suicide Race, and others involved with the event. Write some letters! Make some phone calls!

The Omak Stampede has tried to separate itself from the Suicide Race. But in the Suicide Race Rules, which must be signed by participants, it clearly requires the Omak Stampede, Inc., to be included in news releases. Part of the race purse money comes directly from the Omak Stampede Committee.  Some sponsors, such as Wal-Mart and Crown Royal, have withdrawn their support completely. But the Omak Stampede has directed sponsors such as Coors Beer, Pace Picante Sauce, and Wrangler Jeans to declare that the Stampede and Suicide Race are unrelated events and has convinced these sponsors to continue their sponsorship. Furthermore, official merchandise, logos, and even letterhead of the Omak Stampede feature the Suicide Race. See for yourself at

A sample letter is printed below, after the list of sponsors. You may use the sample letter, but your letters and calls will have greater effect if you use your own words.

Who to write and/or call:

Pace Picante Sauce Sponsorship of Omak Suicide Horse Race
Jerry S. Buckley, Sr. VP - Public Affairs
Campbell Soup Company
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701

Coors Beer Sponsorship of Omak Suicide Horse Race
N. Cornell Boggs , III
Chief Responsibility and Ethics Officer
300 12th Street
Golden, CO  80401
Wrangler Jeans Sponsorship of Omak Suicide Race
Eric C. Wiseman
Chairman, President and CEO
VF Corporation
World Headquarters
105 Corporate Center Blvd.
Greensboro, North Carolina 27408
Letters Editor
The Seattle Times
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111

Mayor of Omak, Cindy Gagne
2 North Ash Street
PO Box 72
Omak, WA 98841

Colville Tribes Involvement:
Owners and Jockeys Assoc.

Omak Stampede & Suicide Race Board
George Dunckel, Chairman
509-826-1983 or 1-800-993-6625
PO Box 2028
Omak, Washington, 98841

Sample Letters: (Below are one sponsor sample, and one sample letter to the Mayor):

Sample Sponsor Letter:

Eric C. Wiseman
Chairman, President and CEO
VF Corporation
World Headquarters
105 Corporate Center Blvd.
Greensboro, NC  27408

Re:  Wrangler Jeans’s Sponsorship of Omak Suicide Race

Dear Mr. Wiseman:

Wrangler Jeans is sponsoring the Omak Suicide Race and Stampede, a barbaric event which has killed at least 20 horses in the past 25 years.

We ask that Wrangler Jeans drop its sponsorship of the Stampede until it ends the “Suicide Race.”

The organizers of this event have many excuses, but none withstand scrutiny. For example, the Stampede says that it does not run the Suicide Race, but the Stampede’s web site markets the race.  The Stampede says that the race is a traditional native event, but that is untrue; the Native Americans did not race horses off this cliff at night, causing so many deaths and injuries. And, if that were really the genesis of this event, why is not limited to Native Americans?

The very name, “Suicide Race,” tells us what they are selling. Does Wrangler Jeans really want to be associated with this?

Wal-Mart and Crown Royal have pulled their sponsorships. Please follow their humane lead and do the same.

Thank you for your kind attention, and a response would be appreciated.


Sample Letter To Mayor:

Cindy Gagne, Mayor of Omak
2 North Ash Street
PO Box 72
Omak, WA 98841

Dear Mayor Gagne:

I am writing to you regarding the Omak Suicide Horse Race. This event of the Omak Stampede is surely a “business draw” for your community. Sadly, however, the money and entertainment value come from cruelty and inhumane exploitation of horses.

Pitbull fighting has been banned from all 50 states due to the inhumane and gruesome exploitation of dogs. The Suicide Race is much like the pitbull fighting in its cruel use of horses.

I urge you to be a leader and change your community’s direction. Many people are learning about this gore-seeking, pointless event called the Suicide Race. Your community will be under scrutiny and will have to answer the question: why sponsor an event that brings out the cruel, thrill-seeking, ugly side of humanity? This Suicide Race, by name, is selling death for thrills; this is NOT an American value nor a Native American value.

Please consider ways to transition your community away from the distorted and shameful focus on gore and cruelty that is the Suicide Race to truly honorable and respectable FAMILY entertainment. There are other options for drawing business to your community.

Thank you for your consideration, and I would appreciate a response.



In Defense of Animals, located in San Rafael, Calif., is an international animal protection organization with more than 85,000 members and supporters dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals by protecting their rights and welfare. IDA's efforts include educational events, cruelty investigations, boycotts, grassroots activism, and hands-on rescue through our sanctuaries in Mississippi, Mumbai, India, and Cameroon, Africa.

In Defense of Animals is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today! All donations to IDA are tax-deductible.

In Defense of Animals
3010 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel. (415) 448-0048 Fax (415) 454-1031

To unsubscribe, please click here.