Go to any rodeo, even the smallest and most insignificant, and you will hear that it has the world’s “meanest & wildest” animals, and the “greatest cowboys”. Rodeo stock contractors claim their animals are “born to buck.” According to the announcer at even the sorriest, most silly affair, it is a “world championship rodeo.” The truth isn’t nearly as impressive.
If rodeos animals were “born to buck,” they wouldn’t have to be spurred, have tormenting straps tightened around their flanks, or get blasted with thousands of volts of electricity.
Rodeo stock contractors victimize and abuse tame, domestic animals for profit. These animals are forced to act wild, run and buck through pain, fear and torment. But don’t believe us.
Here we’ll introduce you to some rodeo stock contractors and how they treat the victims of rodeos. Decide for yourself if rodeo people really care about their animals.
Rudy Calzavara is the owner of the Big Hat Rodeo Company. Calzavara is known for sending a few thousand volts of painful electricity into a bull to make him "perform" out of pain. Calzavara and his employees at Big Hat have been shocking rodeo animals for years, although Big Hat promotions manager Lenore Calzavara-Nolan (Rudy's daughter) claims they don't do any such thing.
The town of St. Charles, Illinois begs to differ with Ms. Calzavara-Nolan. SHARK caught Calzavara shocking animals, and the St. Charles cited Calzavara for his behavior in 2001. Calzavara pled "No Contest" and paid the fine. He was caught again by SHARK the following year, and was warned in writing to stop shocking animals by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
This clip documents the C-bar Rodeo Company shocking rodeo animals. C-bar, operating primarily in Illinois, has for years used electric shock to force animals to "perform." Yes, a few thousand volts will tend to make an animal buck and run. It's called pain.
In some of these scenes you see two men behind the bucking horse, and one in front on horseback. The man on horseback is Cotton Rosser, owner of the Flying U rodeo company. The rodeo clown in the green shirt is Seth Ryan "Shorty" Gorham. Mr. Gorham is using an electric prod to shoot the bucking horse with over 5,000 volts of painful electricity. The prod has the desired effect, and the horse bucks. You can read much more about Cotton Rosser and see video and photographs from his activities here.
Besides being obviously cruel, shocking rodeo animals to make them "perform" is illegal in California, where this rodeo was shot. Both Mr. Rosser and Mr. Gorham know it. That's why Mr. Gorham tries to hide it. The question is -- why does Cotton Rosser do nothing about it?
In fact, Mr. Rosser's rodeos are often filmed shocking animals. Reno Rosser (Cotton Rosser's son) has also been filmed illegally shocking animals in chutes.
This clip shows the Charlie Battles Rodeo Company, a PRCA stock contractor, using electric shock on a bull at a rodeo in Liberty, Texas. This footage was shot by the ARTE European television. ARTE's documentary exposing rodeo animal abuse won the Brigitte Bardot International Genesis Award.
The person with the dark/light checkered shirt shocks a bull, and then quickly slips the electric prod into his rear pocket. The rodeo company is Harper, Morgan and Auger, which is affiliated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). PRCA humane rules prohibit the shocking of a bull in a chute, but those rules are for public relations purposes only. PRCA rodeos, and all rodeos are cruel to animals, and participants openly violate even their own rules.
The combination of cruelty and rules violations is why rodeo never has been, and never will be a legitimate sport in spite of the best efforts of and payoffs by the Rodeo Mafia.
This clip says it all about the Rodeo Mafia. In the foreground is a rodeo judge in a black and white Wrangler judge's vest. That judge is watching Ray Cox (in the blue shirt), owner of the Lazy C Rodeo Company, as he shocks a bull in a chute with a long, light colored electric shock device.
The use of electric shock violates the supposed humane rules of the National High School Rodeo Association, and this was a high school rodeo. The shocking also violates Illinois state law. Regardless, the judge watched and did nothing as Ray Cox shocked one animal after another for two days.
This speaks to the cruelty and absolute lack of integrity of the Rodeo Mafia and its sponsors, such as Wrangler.
Here is a case of rodeo family values. The Rite N Gear Rodeo Company put on a high school rodeo in Mount Vernon, Illinois. The kid in the black & white checkered shirt is showing off to someone in the crowd with an electric shock device. He catches heck from an "adult" (in blue shirt) for displaying the device.
In fact, that same adult and others in the rodeo company were using the device on animals in chutes, in violation of National High School Rodeo Association rules and Illinois state law. The kid just got in trouble for displaying the device, which was supposed to stay hidden.
This is apparently the Rodeo Mafia's version of "Teach your children well."
This clip shows David Morehead shocking a bull in violation of National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) humane rules. Mr. Morehead was producing the National Finals Rodeo, which meant that there were thousands of people from around the country, including the top honchos of the rodeo association. Still, Morehead and others openly violated NHSRA rules for an entire week. David Morehead was also found guilty of 36 counts of animal cruelty. You can read more about that here and here is even more information.
Three Hills Rodeo Company is also affiliated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), which also claims to ban the use of electric prods to make animals "perform." Nevertheless, SHARK has documented Mr. Morehead and his employees committing similar violations at PRCA rodeos.
In 2006, David Morehead pled guilty to 36 counts of horse abuse after being arrested while transporting animals from the Liberty Pro Rodeo in Pennsylvania. Read more about this here.
There is neither integrity nor compassion in rodeos, regardless of the rodeo company or rodeo association.
White Buffalo Rodeo Company is the name, and cruelly shocking tame, domesticated animals to make them act wild is the game.
White Buffalo openly and repeatedly violated Illinois state law at a county fair rodeo, and was subsequently warned by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to cease or face criminal charges.
SHARK will be waiting for another opportunity to document White Buffalo, especially in Illinois.
This employee of the Winchester Rodeo Company is shocking bulls in violation of the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act. This was a high school rodeo, which also prohibits shocking animals to make them "perform," but the association's humane rules are worthless public relations ploys.
The Winchester Rodeo Company was twice caught (both were high school rodeos) by SHARK violating Illinois state law in 2002, and was warned by the Illinois Department of Agriculture that it might face criminal charges.
It's bad enough that Latting Rodeo Productions owner Michael Latting is shocking rodeo animals at this rodeo in Morris, Illinois to make them perform. That's a violation of state law. Even more outrageous were his comments to the Joliet Herald News newspaper when SHARK made public accusations of animal abuse. Here are some excerpts:
Mike Latting, owner of Latting Rodeo Productions, brought five bulls to the Morris event and says he himself didn't use electric prod on his animals in the chutes.
"I don't believe in it," he said. "I can only tell you about mine, though. While I'm there, everybody knows not to mess with my bulls. I take care of my animals."
Well, the video clip certainly shows how Mr. Latting takes care of his animals. You can judge Mr. Latting's truthfulness for yourself. The courts did and Michael Latting was fined for shocking animals, under animal cruelty laws in Illinois, in 2004. Read about this HERE.
Bad Company is bad news for animals. This steer was injured during the Texas steer roping finals, put on by PRCA stock contractor Bad Company. Steer roping is the most cruel event in rodeo, and many animals are injured and even killed.
Although this was the Texas finals, there was no veterinarian onsite, even though that is required by the PRCA. The infraction was no problem for Bad Company, however, as PRCA humane rules exist only for public relations purposes. As for the injured steer, the Rodeo Mafia can easily and cheaply replace him.
This rodeo was covered by the ARTE (European) television network for a documentary. When SHARK president Steve Hindi suddenly popped up to confront Bad Company about the lack of a veterinarian, the rodeo folks started wondering if there might be a connection. There was.
ARTE was working with Steve, to see if rodeos were as cruel as SHARK claimed. Worried about what might happen if there was a connection between ARTE and Steve, Bad Company actually detained the journalists for a time, and tried to force them to give up their videotapes. The journalists escaped with their footage by giving the rodeo thugs what was in fact a blank tape.
ARTE's rodeo documentary, "Alone Against the Rodeo," won the Brigitte Bardot International Genesis Award.
You can see other video clips from the PRCA's Texas steer busting finals by clicking here.
The Barnes Rodeo Company is a longtime member of the PRCA, and one of the best examples of rampant cruelty within the corrupt PRCA, coupled with worthless humane rules.
This clip comes from video taken at the Minnesota State Fair rodeo. The man in the black cowboy hat is Bob Barnes. Barnes is shocking a bull over and over with 5,000 volts of pain to make him act wild and mean.
Minnesota animal protector Julie Derby filmed Barnes as he walked down the chutes, abusing one animal after another with his electric prod in his right hand. SHARK investigators have repeatedly filmed similar abuses by Barnes Rodeo in Illinois.
SHARK investigators also exposed Barnes Rodeo for the attempted cover-up of a steer killed at a Barnes rodeo in Lake County, Illinois. The rodeo was sponsored by the corrupt Lake County Sheriff's Department, and sheriff's deputies were in on the cover-up when rodeo people brought out a different animal, claiming it to be the steer that was, in fact, dead.
The cover-up was exposed when an honest young man, an Explorer Scout volunteer, relieved his conscience and told the truth about the steer's death.
The botched cover-up led to the cancellation of the Lake County Sheriff's rodeo. Barnes tried to make a comeback when another police department sponsored another rodeo in Lake County, but footage of Barnes' use of the electric prod at the next rodeo led to another, permanent cancellation.
SHARK investigators only investigated Golden Eagle one time, in Isleton, California. Once was enough. Golden Eagle demonstrated a typical prod fetish (which is in his right hand), in violation of worthless IPRA humane rules. Golden Eagle's policy clearly is that anything goes in order to make tame, domesticated animals act wild and mean.
Honeycutt rodeo was chosen as a target for SHARK by producers of the television show Hard Copy. Show producers asked SHARK investigators if they could bust any rodeo, and we said yes.
The producers found a rodeo in the small California town of Big Bear, California. SHARK filmed two rodeo performances and had all the cruelty Hard Copy could use.
Footage included a Honeycutt family member using an electric prod on animals in chutes (with his right hand each time he bent over), in violation of PRCA propaganda claiming such treatment is not allowed. Rodeo people were also caught twisting, pulling and raking tails, which they subsequently assured Hard Copy producers did not happen.
After being confronted with the video footage at the end of the rodeo, the Hard Copy team was threatened by rodeo thugs. The animal abuse and threats from the rodeo people was broadcast across the country in a two-part expose. Hard Copy won a Genesis Award for the PRCA expose.
SHARK president Steve Hindi caught up with J-Bar-J when it produced a rodeo at the Flat Rock Speedway, in Flat Rock, Michigan. It was the first of what the Rodeo Mafia hoped would be an annual event.
For three days, the investigator filmed the rodeo. Every performance included many violations, including the use of the electric prod to force animals to "perform."
SHARK blew the whistle on the abuses, and Detroit media did a good job of covering the issue. The management of the speedway did the right thing -- saying NO THANKS to any more rodeos.
Sutton Rodeo was investigated by a dedicated investigator in Rapid City, South Dakota. As usual, she documented a great deal of cruelty, and violations of the PRCA's own humane rules.
In this clip you can see the use of the electric prod, in violations of the PRCA's worthless humane rules.
The World's Toughest Rodeo (WTR) was once a PRCA stock contractor. During that time, SHARK and other organizations documented repeated violations of the PRCA's supposed humane regulations year after year in Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. The violations were reported to the PRCA. Regardless, the violations continued.
When an English documentary team did a story on the abuses of the WTR, it included a challenge from SHARK activist Greg Campbell to Steven Gander to take a shock from the prod. Gander refused. Like other rodeo people, Gander can't take what his rodeo company dishes out.
Now WTR owner Steve Gander has left the PRCA and is going it alone, and as you can see in this clip, his company is still shocking and otherwise abusing animals.
A SHARK investigator caught Hampton Rodeo routinely shocking its bulls at a rodeo sponsored by the University of Illinois. To its credit, university administrators promised to keep this abuse from happening again. Of course, the best (and only) way to prevent rodeo animal abuse is to eliminate rodeos completely.
At this high school rodeo in Williamsfield, Ohio, stock contractor Circle M Rodeo Company purposely tied bulls' tails under the flank strap (also known as buck strap).
This is a direct violation of the National High School Rodeo Association's rule that states: "No bull tails will be allowed under flank strap." This occurred in plain view of contestants, spectators and judges.