In recent years, rodeo has been labeled as a cruel sport where animals are mistreated. As this viewpoint has become increasingly popular, animal rights activists have strove to implement restrictions. As recently as March, Los Angeles county took the first steps toward banning all roughstock and rodeo events. As debate on the ethics of the sport surge, rural people shake their heads at the absurdity of the claims made by uninformed activists.
As someone who has been to rodeos as a competitor and a viewer, I am shocked by how many people have no knowledge of how these events are run.
The animals used for rodeo are athletes and that’s how their caretakers view them. The horses live a better lifestyle than many humans. They are provided with the best type of feeds, visit chiropractors and veterinarians regularly to make sure they aren’t sore, and are pampered to keep them looking great as they compete. The same is the case for the roughstock and cattle. These animals are worth a lot of money and are not easy to replace. They are well fed and doctored—even in the face of minor injuries.
The examples of injuries stated while discussing the Los Angeles ban were horses running into walls, roughstock breaking legs, and roping calves injuring their necks. Of all of these, the first is the most nonsensical. Unsure of what this was referring to, I did a quick Google search. In 2017, two bucking horses suffered serious injuries to the spinal cord after running into walls and they eventually passed away. This shouldn’t have happened, but this is an extremely rare occurrence.
According to a survey done by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), there is less than 0.0005 % chance of an animal being injured during rodeo competition in any event. To put this into perspective, according to the Journal of Athletic Training in 2007, 28% of football players ages 5-14 were injured. The death of this animal was a tragedy, but similar incidents are unlikely to occur. As with anything in life, accidents do happen. We shouldn’t blow them out of proportion though.
The next reason mentioned was the potential injury to the legs of the roughstock.
Though I have never seen this, it makes sense that it can occur. The animals will jump high into the air as they buck, making it easy for them to land incorrectly and become injured. Still, this is an uncommon occurrence. Moreover, the sand in the arena is worked extensively before the performance to provide the best possible footing for competitors. Many viewers will not see the countless hours of work that ensures the animals safety.
There are also many misconceptions about the techniques used to cause animals to buck during roughstock events. Many believe that a shocking device is used on them, but that is untrue. The only thing used is a ‘flank strap’ in front of their hind legs. This encourages the animal to buck, but causes no harm.
These animals are bred to perform. They are not frightened or harmed. They are just doing what they were raised to do.
Another noted issue with rodeo is the harm that can be caused to calves necks when they are roped. As mentioned, it’s highly unlikely for the animals to be injured. Also, there are rules in place to prevent harm to the calf. If the calf is flipped over backwards when they have been caught, the rider will be given a “no-time.” Also, calves are usually not run more than one time without having a rest. The calf is also given a head start, and if the rider does not obey this rule, they are given a time penalty. These rules make the competition harder, but are also added precautions to increase animals’ safety.
These animals are well-treated and often pampered. We are asking them to do things that are physically challenging. Competitors know this and treat their animals like the athletes they are. If the animals were not treated well, they could not compete at such a high level. Riders will pay large sums of cash to care for their animals. Not only do owners feel a responsibility to care for these animals, but the PRCA also has rules in place to ensure proper treatment to the animals.
The attacks from animal rights groups on rodeo and other parts of the rural lifestyle is something we all should be concerned about—no matter where we live. Small bans like this can escalate to the elimination of other things, such as farming methods or other animal related hobbies.
We should not form uneducated views or believe the lies that are often spread. Rather, I would urge anyone who has a concern with this issue to reach out to a member of a rural community or to those involved in rodeo. You might be surprised about the knowledge you’ll gain.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.