Chuckwagon racer sues Husky over death of horses

ST. WALBURG, Sask. — A veteran champion Canadian chuckwagon racer is suing a subsidiary of Husky Energy for almost $3.7 million over the death and injury of 16 horses from his racing team.

Wayne Knight, 60, alleges Husky Oil Operations Ltd., failed to properly clean up his property near St. Walburg, Sask., where the company was doing seismic work in 2015.

His statement of claim says the company left hazards including sharp stakes, stumps and rock piles on the ground that caused injuries leading to seven of the horses being destroyed and others being hurt.

“The racing team will never be the same as it was and it will be some time before it can achieve performance close to what was achieved in the past,” reads the statement of claim filed in Saskatoon court.

“As a result of Husky’s negligence and breaches of contract, the plaintiff has suffered psychological injuries including, without limitation, anxiety, grief and mental anguish.”

Statements of claim contain allegations that have not been proven in court.

A spokesman for Husky said the corporation had not been served the legal documents and it has not yet filed a statement of defence.

The claim says the deaths and injuries have saddled Knight with expensive bills for veterinary care, clean up of his land and the cost of buying and training new horses for the racing team.

The process of training the horses to work together can take years and the performance of his team has been reduced, he alleges.

“The racing team’s reduced performance caused it to lose its entry into the Calgary Stampedes’s Rangeland Derby, a showcase event that draws international attention and is highly important to sponsors,” reads the statement of claim.

Knight declined to speak about the lawsuit.

The Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association website calls him one of the most accomplished and competitive horsemen in chuckwagon racing.

“Dedicated to the love of the sport, Wayne prides himself in breaking and training new horses, working with them to achieve their full potential and creating that unparalleled mutual respect between horse and human.”

On his Facebook page, Knight says he has been racing chuckwagons for 32 years after learning the sport from his dad.

He says most of the horses he uses are former racetrack thoroughbreds that he retrains for the chuckwagon circuit. Knight refers to his horses as superstar equine athletes.

“We love these horses with all our hearts and are blessed to call them ours,” he says on the website.

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