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Rodeos: Inherent Cruelty to Animals

Definition of inherent -- ADJECTIVE: 
existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute.

During the course of my lifetime, I have been a farmer, a bareback rodeo bronc rider, a large animal veterinarian, a medical researcher, a meat inspector, a state veterinarian, and a prosecutor. I have also worked as a media consultant on animal welfare issues including rodeo and PMU (pregnant mare’s urine) horses. Based upon my extensive large animal experience, I have concluded that rodeo events are inherently cruel.

Calf Roping
The cruelest rodeo events are the roping events. In calf roping, baby calves are used. If they were not in the rodeo, these calves would still be with their mothers on pasture. Weighing less than 300 pounds, they are forced to run at speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour when roped. The reason they run at such high speeds is that they are tormented in the holding chute: their tails are twisted, their tails are rubbed back and forth over the steel chute bars, and they are shocked with 5000-volt electric prods until the gate opens. They burst out of the chute at top speed only to be stopped short – or “clotheslined” – with a choking rope around the neck. They are often injured, and some are killed.
It is also the case that rodeo calf ropers must spend a great deal of time practicing in order to become proficient. Calves sold to practice pens are roped over and over until they are injured or killed. Dr. T. K. Hardy, a veterinarian who was also a calf roper, was quoted in Newsweek, stating that calf roping is an expensive sport, and that two or three calves are injured per practice session and must be replaced.
Many rodeo insiders also believe that calf roping is cruel. These include such notables as Dr. Robert Miller (rodeo veterinarian), Chuck King (Editor of Western Horseman), John Growney (stock contractor), Keith Martin (San Antonio Livestock Exposition Director), Cotton Rosser (stock contractor) and Monty Roberts (horse trainer).

Bull Riding
Bull riding may appear less harmful, as the bulls are so large. However, in order to enhance the bull's performance, cattle prods are often used repeatedly to shock the bulls as they stand trapped in the bucking chute. Bucking straps and spurs can cause the bull to buck beyond his normal capacity and his legs or back may thus be broken. Eventually, when bulls cease to provide a wild ride, they too are sent to slaughter.

Rodeo-Related Injuries Evident at Slaughter
As a pathologist and former meat inspector, I believe my colleagues when they report horrendous injuries to rodeo cattle. Dr. C. G. Haber--a veterinarian with thirty years of experience as a USDA meat inspector--says, "The rodeo folks send their animals to the packing houses where...I have seen cattle so extensively bruised that the only areas in which the skin was attached was the head, neck, legs, and belly. I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine and at times puncturing the lungs. I have seen as much as two and three gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached skin."1
A career USDA meat inspection veterinarian, Dr. Robert Fetzner, Director of Slaughter Operations for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, stated in our phone conversation on September 9, 1998, "Lots of rodeo animals went to slaughter. I found broken ribs, punctured lungs, hematomas, broken legs, severed tracheas and the ligamenta nuchae were torn loose." Torn nuchal ligaments are essentially broken necks and this is the sad fate of many roping calves.

Bronc Riding
Bronc riding, both saddle and bareback, causes rodeo horse deaths. It is not uncommon for horses in these events to crash blindly into fence posts around the arena or into the holding fencing and chutes. Bucking horses must be spurred over the shoulders on each jump or buck in order for the rider to qualify. The spurs cause blunt trauma to the shoulders which don’t have time to heal properly before the horse is ridden and spurred in another rodeo. The bucking strap can also cause chafing to the flank area which increases the discomfort to the horse. The irritation of the spurs and the bucking strap often cause the horse to "run blind" and fail to see fencing, posts or chutes.

For more info:

1. https://www.sharkonline.org/index.php/animal-cruelty/rodeo-cruelty

2. https://www.humanedecisions.com/rodeo-cruelty/

3. https://aldf.org/article/rodeo-facts-the-case-against-rodeos/