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Blood Sport – Rodeo Edition 

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July 1, 2013

According to Wikipedia, a rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States, western Canada, and northern Mexico.

images-7Back when I was a kid, rodeos were exciting, enjoyable places to be, and they gave us a chance to demonstrate how really stupid we were by allowing us to climb on the back of a 2,500 pound monster that wanted nothing less out of life than to kill us – and had a fair chance to do just that. We didn’t win any prizes, but we attracted the looks of the cute girls who were there to race barrels. All of that disappeared when big money got involved. Nowadays a rodeo is about putting on a show with professional riders, rodeo livestock companies, big name bulls and slaughter bound horses used for “bucking broncs.” 

I’m not against rodeos. Those skills were necessary a long time ago and the tradition should never die. What I am against are the electric prods, the insane use of slaughter bound horses and the $50,000 prizes. A demonstration of cutting horse skills is a wonder to behold, however animal abuse at rodeos is far more common than most of us want to believe, despite the supposed restrictions of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Their “watchful eye” is about the same as that demonstrated by the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. 

Below are two news stories that make the point. While the second story is about one ladies’ experience at the Reno Rodeo, what gets to me is the immediate denial of the deed by the organizers – even before they look at the photos. “She’s wrong! We’re innocent!” Damnit, people, if you screwed up, admit it, correct the mistake and move on. Being busted with a cattle prod up a horses’ butt, then denying it, isn’t the brightest reaction.

The Underbelly of Rodeos: Busting the American Myth

Julia Orr, The Huffington Post Blog

images-5These days YouTube seems to be doing the job of investigative journalism and law enforcement, hopefully in a helpful way. There really is nowhere left to hide and nowhere can it be said to be more useful than in exposing heinous acts of animal cruelty. Groups likeShowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) have used social media to such a great degree that it is hard to refute egregious acts of animal exploitation and abuse. As the 2013 rodeo season gets well under way, we can expect to see yet more evidence that the animals suffer enormously for the jeering crowds.

In 2011 and again in 2012, SHARK’s video of horses being given electric shocks to force them to buck at the Reno Rodeo tore across the national media and suddenly, the great American myth of the traditional rodeo where old fashioned cowboys show off their skills, came to a crashing halt. Like many large rodeos, Reno Rodeo is a huge money making event for everyone concerned. It is estimated to bring in around $42 million to the local economy, and that in itself is likely to bring out the worst in people. Power may corrupt, but the love of money sure competes for first place when it comes to people acting the lowest of the low and turning a blind eye to animal abuse in particular. At this year’s Reno Rodeo, officials chose to ban all video cameras in what can only be an attempt to curtail any more images of abuses reaching the general public. A general public who are increasingly showing themselves less likely to support blood for sport. Now I have to say, I have come into contact with rodeo people who do hold their animals in the highest regard and have even reached out to animal welfare organizations to help clean up rodeos, so there are good people out there. But what essentially SHARK has revealed, is a huge underbelly of rodeo stock contractors and riders, who will do everything they can to win that prize money. And there’s a lot of it at stake. In Reno, the Xtreme Bulls event alone offers $50,000 in prize money. Both Reno and Cheyenne rodeos have an estimated $1million in total of cash and prizes to be had. CONTINUED…..

Woman claims she saw horse abused at Reno Rodeo

Officials say no abuse took place

 

This photo submitted by Ellie Lopez-Bowlan shows what appears to be a man holding a horse's tail to the side while another man sticks a prod in the horse's anus. / Submitted by Ellie Lopez-Bowlan

This photo submitted by Ellie Lopez-Bowlan shows what appears to be a man holding a horse’s tail to the side while another man sticks a prod in the horse’s anus. / Submitted by Ellie Lopez-Bowlan

A Reno woman said she saw a horse being shocked and “poked in the anus” with a wire before it was loaded into the bucking chutes at the Reno Rodeo on Friday.

Reno Rodeo officials disputed the claims.

Ellie Lopez-Bowlan said she and her husband Steve Lopez-Bowlan were leaving the Past Presidents Room just before the start of Friday’s performance —where the announcer stand is located — to go to their seats in the grandstands. They were on a walkway that passed over the loading chutes where the stock makes its way toward the bucking chutes.

“There was one horse in a very small stall that just fit his body,” Ellie Lopez-Bowlan said. “There were three or four guys around him. They were using tasers, they were pinching his skin to make him angry, they were hitting him, like slapping him hard. Then they had a big wire hanger they were poking it into his anus.”

Reno Rodeo president John Tipton said shocking devices were not used. CONTINUED…..

 


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