Target: Mayor of Omak Cindy Gagne
Goal: Put an end to the race that forces horses to plunge blindly down a 210-foot near cliff into a river.
Each August, the small town of Omak in Eastern Washington State holds what is often referred to as “the deadliest horse race in the world,” where horses and riders plunge down a 62-degree slope at breakneck speed into the rocky Okanogan River. At least 22 horses have died over the last three decades, and countless others have been injured. This brutal contest cannot continue.
The Suicide Race takes place over the span of four days and nights, where horses are repeatedly asked to blindly plunge down a 210-foot slope with a 120-foot galloping start. They must then swim across a river the length of a football field, and finally race a grueling 500 feet uphill. The horses, many new to the event, have suffered heart attacks from overexertion, broken bones from collisions or falls, and have drowned.
Supporters of the race defend it as part of Native American tradition, but in reality the race was the idea of a white publicity director for the annual rodeo who was trying to bring more business to the area in 1935. Traditional Native American races were run over long distances and didn’t involve the dangerous cliffs and unstable terrain that are prevalent in the Suicide Race. The native Colville Indian Tribes actually boycotted the event in 1999 claiming it was becoming more about money and pride than horsemanship. Unfortunately this boycott ended when organizers doubled the purse money and moved the Indian encampment to a more favorable area.
Every year the welfare of horses is put in jeopardy in the aptly named Suicide Race. Please urge town officials to put an end to this disgusting display of cruelty to animals.
Dear Mayor Gagne,
The annual Omak Suicide Race has surely had a positive economic impact on your town, but it is a horrific display of animal cruelty and cannot continue.
At least 22 horses have died in this grueling competition and countless others have been injured. It is unfair to ask horses to essentially run off of a cliff and into a river at breakneck speed.
Race organizers claim this race is rooted in Native American tradition, but as I’m sure you are aware, it was the idea of a white woman trying to bring more business to the area. True Native American races were run over long distances and stable terrain. The Colville Indians actually boycotted the event in 1999 claiming it was primarily about money and pride, rather than cultural preservation and horsemanship.
Each year your town faces more close scrutiny as people discover the abuse that takes place there. There are other ways to draw business to your community using respectable entertainment. Please put an end to the Omak Suicide Race.
[Your Name Here]