Call to Ban Rodeos

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Rodeo proponents like to say that a rodeo is a sport, where professionals can showcase their animal handling prowess.They are also said to be good family entertainment, and an integral part of rural life. In reality, a rodeo is an outdated form of animal exploitation, used as an excuse to dominate and terrorise naturally gentle animals. There are better ways for agricultural professionals to demonstrate their skills, network their businesses and have social events that do not include scientifically proven animal cruelty.

A rodeo takes untrained horses and cattle (sometimes pigs and sheep) that have had minimal contact with humans, and are naturally fearful, and puts them in dangerous and stressful situations in the name of entertainment and profit. Events include bronco riding, bull riding, calf roping and steer wrestling, activities that are exploitative and have no place in today's society. Bull and Bronco riding is not a normal husbandry practice on farms or stations and does not align with good cattle handling skills according to the Australian Cattle Industry.  

Although all rodeo events pose significant risks to animals health and well being, calf roping is one of the more serious concerns. Calf roping sees a person on horseback chase down a calf, rope it around the neck as it runs full speed, dismount and 'hog tie' the calf. Judging is based on speed and accuracy with no onus put on animal comfort or well-being. The risks of injury to calves during roping include damage to the trachea and soft tissues of the neck from the sudden and violent jerk of the lasso, bruising and broken ribs as they are forced to the ground and choking from being dragged along the ground.

Other inhumane methods used during rodeos are flank straps and spurs. A flank strap is a thick belt tightened around the sensitive underbelly of a bull or horse just before it is released from the chute. It is designed to cause pain and discomfort, making the animals buck more violently as it tries to free itself. Spurs are hard metal spike like apparatus that attach to the riders boots. The rider uses these to kick and dig into the animals flank or belly to make them buck more. It is illegal to subject companion animals, such as dogs and cats, to this treatment. 

Despite what rodeo industry professionals claim,there is very little evidence that the animals ‘enjoy’ the rodeo experience. Rodeo horses and bulls buck repeatedly as an instinctive reaction to being kicked with spurs and to the tightened flank strap around their sensitive underbelly. Horses and cattle are prey animals and their reaction to being ridden in this way is the same as their reaction to being attacked by a predator, a situation where they experience increased fear, stress and panic.

There is no independent body that records injuries and fatalities at rodeos or rodeo training schools, making it impossible to determine the true nature and prevalence of injuries at rodeo events. Victoria has some of the strictest codes of conduct pertaining to rodeos, yet according to the Australian Professional Rodeo Association in the last 7 years 28 animals have been injured and a further 9 have been killed in Victoria alone. 

The Registered Association of Veterinarians for Animal Protection recommended that bull riding cease based on animal welfare grounds.The RSPCA support a ban on rodeos including bull riding, due to inherent pain and suffering caused to animals. How much longer can we ignore the facts? Rodeos have no place in a modern society that values animal welfare over profit and entertainment. 

Other ways to help: Email your state representitive and begin a conversation about stopping animal cruelty in your state.