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Rodeo Cruelty

Are animals hurt in rodeos?



Another rodeo victim...this horse was gravely injured at the National Finals Rodeo in December 2001. She bucked so completely out of control from being tortured by the flank strap and spurs that she was paralyzed and subsequently killed.

Yes! Many animals are injured and even killed in rodeos. Animal cruelty investigators are only able to attend a very small percentage of rodeos each year. Therefore, only a very small percentage of injuries or deaths are documented. More importantly, as the record below shows, rodeos frequently try to cover up animal injuries and even deaths.

Injuries ranging from minor to life threatening may not be immediately visible, especially from the distance of the bleachers. These injuries may include sprains, broken bones, muscle pulls, saddle blisters, spur and flank strap wounds. Essentially, if the animal doesn't drop dead in front of the bleachers, the audience usually doesn't know anything is wrong.

Also, in the last few years, rodeos are banning video and in some cases even still cameras from their events in an effort to thwart documentation of rodeo cruelty, and the resulting injuries and deaths.

To see some of the footage that SHARK investigators have captured, visit our YouTube page here.

As you review these records, you will notice that rodeos that are regularly investigated have a record of consistent injuries. Contrary to claims by rodeo apologists, it is obvious that rodeos are cruel and in fact perilous to animals. For this reason, requests from SHARK to review various rodeo association animal injury records have all been denied.

Note: There are some 5000 rodeos held annually in the US, only about one-third of which are professionally sanctioned. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the nation's largest rodeo organization with about 8,000 members, sponsors about 600 rodeos each year, mostly west of the Mississippi River. The second largest rodeo organization, the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA), sponsors rodeos mostly east of the Rocky Mountains.

Emergency teams are onsite at rodeos, ready to aid rodeo contestants. Even though some rodeo associations require a veterinarian onsite SHARK's investigations show that this rule is regularly violated. This further demonstrates rodeo's view of animals as disposable objects.

Beginning in 2001, SHARK started attending more and more rodeos and the amount of injuries that we documented just skyrocketed. Far too many to enumerate here. Countless animals have been injured and killed at rodeos - and SHARK's cameras have documented some of it. Please visit our YouTube channel to view the videotape, we must warn you however that with hundreds of videos, the evidence is as voluminous as it is graphic. The amount of cruelty and death that rodeo inflicts upon animals is truly staggering.

It is impossible to create either a humane rodeo, or one that does not pose a risk of injury or death to animals. Here is a very partial list of injuries and deaths through December 2000:

September 1976 Western Championship Finals Rodeo in Folsom, California One horse suffers a heart attack and dies, and another suffers a broken neck after running into a fence.

Fall 1982 San Francisco Grand National Rodeo (PRCA) A calf suffers a broken leg, bleeding badly. He is taken to ranch and killed. Also, a horse suffers a broken leg and is killed.

1983 California Rodeo in Salinas, California (PRCA) Two horses dead. One suffered an aneurysm, collapsed and dies in the arena. Another had his leg broken, and was killed.

Fall 1984 San Francisco Grand National Rodeo (PRCA) One calf - severely injured - is hidden from Humane Officer

1985 California Rodeo in Salinas, California (PRCA) One horse dies after hitting head on a steel post. Two calves suffer fractured legs -- one is taken to a slaughterhouse and the other is given a cast. Two more calves suffer dislocated legs and are given casts.

November 1985 San Francisco Grand National Rodeo (PRCA) One bucking horse suffers a broken back and is killed. One roping calf suffers a broken back. One horse suffers a swollen knee, one horse suffers a gash on head, one horse suffers a face injury, one horse suffers a cut on hock.

June 1986 Police Officers Association Rodeo, Rowell Rodeo Ranch, Hayward, CA A horse suffers a broken leg and is shot. No veterinarian is present

July 1986 Half Moon Bay Jr. Rodeo in Half Moon Bay, California One horse suffers with a swollen cannon bone.

November 1986 San Francisco Grand National Rodeo (PRCA) One horse suffers a fractured rear hock. Electric shock device used to force animals to "perform."

June 1987 Police Officers Association Rodeo, Rowell Rodeo Ranch, Hayward, CA A calf is runs into a fence during roping, and suffers a broken nose and palate. He is still thrown down and tied, then left in the sun for four hours, bleeding from the nose and mouth. Despite promises that there would be a veterinarian on site, there was none.

August 1987 Rodeo and Stampede in Omak, Washington (All Indian Rodeo) One horse killed in "Suicide Race."

September 1987, Inglewood, California A horse found with gaping wound laid open to the bone on hind leg.

November 1987 San Francisco Grand National Rodeo (PRCA) One calf suffered a broken leg, one calf suffered right rear leg injury, one calf suffered laceration on face, one calf suffered a sprained leg.

Four horses suffered lacerations, one horse suffered a gash on the face, one horse suffered an injured hoof, one horse suffered a gash between the ears, one horse suffered a cut on right rear leg.

One bull suffered an injured leg.

Electric shock device used to force animals to "perform."

June 1988 Rodeo at Watsonville, California (Mexican Rodeo) A horse suffers a broken back, and is dragged approximately 75 feet from the arena, is left to suffer for 1-1/2 hours before arrival of a veterinarian, who euthanized the horse.

July 1988 Bill Pickett Invitational Black Rodeo - Los Angeles Equestrian CenterDuring the "Wild Horse Race," a horse runs into a wall, injures leg, bleeding from nose and mouth, and is still saddled and ridden.

1989 California Rodeo in Salinas, California (PRCA) A calf goes down during the calf roping event and is unable to stand. It is destroyed later.

1989 San Francisco Grand National Rodeo (PRCA) Electric shock device used to force animals to "perform."

1990 Hawaii rodeo A bucking bull is paralyzed, with video documenting the injured animal dragging his hindquarters across the arena, bellowing in pain as two ranch dogs attack him.

1990 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada Two horses are injured and killed, one steer suffers a broken leg and is killed.

1990 California Rodeo in Salinas, California (PRCA) A horse suffers a broken leg and is killed.

1990 San Francisco Grand National Rodeo (PRCA) One horse suffers a shattered disk during bucking, one horse suffers a cut eye. Electric shock device used to force animals to "perform."

November 1990 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania A bucking bull has his leg broken. There is no vet available, so the injured bull is hidden in a trailer. Later he is killed.

This incident led to passage of a law that, while not banning rodeos outright, did ban the use of rodeo's tools of torture, including electric shock devices, bucking straps and spurs. There hasn't been a rodeo held in Pittsburgh ever since passage of the law.

No torture -- no rodeo.

June 1991 Reno Rodeo in Reno, Nevada (PRCA) A bull suffers a broken back, and is killed.

July 1991 California Rodeo in Salinas, California (PRCA) One horse suffers a fractured rear leg and is killed.

1992 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada One horse killed.

1992 Reno Rodeo in Reno, Nevada (PRCA) One horse left arena with bleeding nostrils which soon became severe bleeding from nose and mouth. The horse was killed. One horse with 6 inch gash on chest. Several horses, calves and steers limping with injured legs. One steer suffered a broken horn. An attempt was made to secure horn with duct tape.

1993 California Rodeo in Salinas, California (PRCA) A bull has his rear leg caught in a fence and suffers a break while trying to free himself. The bull is killed.

July 1993 Wauconda Rodeo in Wauconda, Illinois (IPRA) Multiple severely underweight steers with open, swollen wounds.

1993 Frontier Day Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming (PRCA) Two horses and one steer are killed.

1993 Lake County Fair Rodeo (IPRA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

August 1993 Omak Stampede Rodeo in Omak, Washington (All Indian Rodeo) One calf suffers a broken leg.

1994 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada One horse suffers a broken leg and is killed.

July 1994 Wauconda Rodeo in Wauconda Illinois (IPRA) One horse's leg becomes caught in rope during calf roping. No report is given on horse's condition. Multiple horses with open flank strap wounds.

1994 Lake County Fair in Illinois (IPRA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

September 1994 Fraternal Order of Police Rodeo in Lake County, Illinois (PRCA)Electric shock device used to force animals to "perform."

A steer is killed during the steer wrestling event. The dead animal was hastily rolled onto a piece of section of fencing and rushed from the area. A short time later, rodeo people paraded another steer in front of the crowd, claiming it was the animal that had actually been killed.

A young man working as a volunteer through the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) uncovered the fraud. In fact, he was one of the people who carried the dead steer out. He reported that everyone was told of the intended fraud, and everyone was warned to never talk about what had really happened.

This young man showed great bravery. He was the only person among the rodeo cowboys or the Lake County Sheriff's Police who told the truth. The PRCA stood behind the false claims of the stock contractor, the Barnes Rodeo Company.

1994 Rodeo at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California (National Collegiate Rodeo Association) A steer is injured during steer-busting. It was impossible to get documented information from the rodeo to determine the animal's eventual fate.

Interestingly, a steer was brought out the following day, and was supposedly the same animal that had been injured. The only problem was that the animal's markings were somewhat different.

The school claimed that the animal was "fine." However, this reaction from rodeo people and their sponsors is typical after an injury not resulting in immediate death.

1995 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada One horse killed after head injury, two horses killed after breaking legs, one horse suffers a shoulder injury after being knocked down, one horse collapses.

July 1995 California Rodeo in Salinas, California (PRCA) Three horses killed (broken leg, broken neck, heart attack), a steer dies of a broken neck, a calf's back is broken. Although veterinarians were present, they did not euthanize the calf, as they didn't want to "ruin the meat." The young animal lay suffering for over an hour until he was finally taken to a slaughterhouse, where he was killed.

July 1995 Wauconda Rodeo in Wauconda, Illinois (IPRA) Several children shook up and/or crying after falling during sheep riding.

1995 Lake County Fair in Illinois (IPRA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1995 Grundy County Fair Rodeo in Mazon, Illinois (IPRA) One steer's tail is purposely broken (video documented) in an effort to make him run. One steer used with an open wound.

August 1995 Santa Barbara Fiesta Rodeo in Santa Barbara, California (PRCA) A horse is gored after being improperly housed with a bull in a holding pen. An individual not associated with law enforcement fired three gun shots at the dying animal -- missing each time -- in front of a large crowd that included children.

The local sheriff, a rodeo proponent, ignored this violation, which is a felony, city authorities attempted to sweep the incident under the rug.

February 1996 Anaheim Pond Rodeo in Anaheim, California A bronco crashed headlong into a heavy metal gate and was killed. Spectators reported that wranglers were "prodding the horses and hyping them up." The rodeo foreman admitted his men used 4-foot long wooden prods to keep the handlers out of kicking range.

April 1996 In Laramie County, Wyoming, a community college rodeo coach was charged with cruelty to animals after four rodeo steers froze to death.

1996 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada Three horses killed.

September 1996 Los Angeles County Fair Bullriders Classic in Pomona, California A horse is killed after crashing into another horse and suffering a broken neck.

April 1997 Cal Poly University Rodeo in San Luis Obispo, California A horse suffered a fall and was killed while bucking. The announcer told the crowd the horse was "OK."

1997 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada Three horses suffer injury, and two die as a result. A bull being ridden in the bucking event kicked so high his leg became wedged in the chute gate. His leg was completely fractured above his fetlock, exposing the bone. The bull was killed.

July 1997 DuPage County Fair Rodeo in Wheaton, Illinois (Lazy C Rodeo Company) One horse slams head into sign precariously placed over chute. Goes down, but is still forced to buck. Neither the fair nor rodeo officials offered information on the horse's condition afterward. Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1997 Yolo County Fair in California Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1997 Effingham County Fair Rodeo in Altimont, Illinois (Lazy C Rodeo Company)Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1997 Kendall County Fair Rodeo, Yorkville, Illinois (IPRA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1997 San Dimas Rodeo, San Dimas, California (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

August 1997 Kern County Fair Rodeo in Bakersfield, California (PRCA) A bucking horse goes down, rolls, comes up with an apparently broken left front leg and shoulder. The horse is forced into a stall, where he goes down again. The rodeo never gave any more information on the horse's condition.

August 1997 Boone County Fair Rodeo near Rockford, Illinois (IPRA) A bucking horse suffers an injury to rear leg. No information was given on horse's condition afterward. One rodeo clown video is documented kicking a calf in the head and throwing sand in a bull's eyes. Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

August 1997 California State Fair (PRCA stock contractor) A performing dog is injured in a fall. No report is given on the dog's condition. Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

The cruelty was exposed via Sacramento-area media. The PRCA refused to take action.

1997 Illinois State Fair Rodeo (Lazy C Rodeo Company) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

August 1997, Big Bear, California Rodeo (PRCA) Many animals had their tails twisted and raked over bars. An electric shock device was used to force animals to "perform."

SHARK gathered undercover video footage for the television program "Hard Copy." When the stock contractor was interviewed and asked about the tail twisting and raking, and the use of electric shock, he denied it. Hard Copy used a split screen to simultaneously show the cruelty and the denial at the same time to a national audience.

When shown video footage of the shocking, the stock contractor initially denied it, then stated he did not know who the man was. The man was the stock contractor's son.

The PRCA refused to take action.

1997 Isleton, California Rodeo (IPRA) Two horses used with open flank strap wounds, one bull suffered open slices on sides, apparently from spurs. One bull checked for back injuries. A rodeo worker disclosed two of the bull's siblings had already died of broken backs while bucking. Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

September 1997 Flat Rock Rodeo in Flat Rock, Michigan (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform." The cruelty was exposed to Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio area media. The rodeo never returned.

October 1997 International Pro Rodeo Association (IPRA) Regional Finals, Gordyville, Illinois A steer whose head became stuck outside a fence was repeatedly kicked in the face and head to force him back inside. A 5,000-volt electric shock device was used to force animals to "perform." The rodeo was attended by IPRA President Jack Wiseman. When contacted, the IPRA stated it had no problem that practice.

January 1998 Philadelphia Rodeo (IPRA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1998 World's Toughest Rodeo in Peoria, Illinois (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1998 World's Toughest Rodeo in Rockford, Illinois (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

1998 World's Toughest Rodeo in St. Paul, Minnesota (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

March 1998 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas (PRCA) One steer died of a broken neck, and two calves suffered broken legs.

March 1998 World's Toughest Rodeo, Rosemont, Illinois (PRCA) Horse suffers injured leg. No information forthcoming regarding the horse's condition by rodeo officials. Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

May 1998 Montgomery Rodeo in Skillman, NJ (APRA) Electric prods used on steers and bulls confined in chutes to force them to "perform." A steer suffered a deep gash on his back. Another steer suffered a split horn and bloody cheek. Several sheep suffered leg injuries after children's sheep riding. One steer was trampled by a horse during team roping.

June 1998 Guilford Rodeo in Guilford, Connecticut During a "dash for cash" contest, a steer was tackled and thrown to the ground. His neck was broken. Organizers of the rodeo called in a clown to distract the stricken audience. The steer died. Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform." Afterward, the Connecticut Make-A-Wish Foundation, recipient of some rodeo proceeds, announced it would no longer be associated with rodeos.

June 1998 Henry County Fair in Cambridge, Illinois (IPRA) One horse used with open, raw, bloody flank strap wound.

July 1998 Folsom Rodeo in Folsom, California (PRCA) One bull and one calf suffer leg injuries. Rodeo promoters admitted to the injuries, but would only say the victims received "appropriate treatment."

July 1998 Wauconda Rodeo, Wauconda, Illinois (IPRA) Multiple children hurt during sheep riding, multiple horses with open, bloody flank strap wounds, one calf, one horse, one steer injured. No further information given on injured animals or children. On the contrary, the rodeo people claim that the animals are fine.

SHARK investigators waited to release video footage and still pictures of rodeo injuries until stock contractor Thyrl Latting and two IPRA judges claim that there were no animal injuries. In response to SHARK documentation, Latting claims that flank strap wounds are not wounds, but burns. We didn't bother to tell Mr. Latting that a burn is a wound. Investigators also document inches of animal waste on the floor of Latting's livestock trailer. Latting claimed he was unaware of the trailer's condition.

The rodeo was attended by IPRA President Jack Wiseman. As Wiseman's camper/pickup pulled out of the rodeo grounds, Wiseman's passenger displayed rodeo's concept of family values by giving an obscene hand gesture to people, including children, who were protesting cruelty to animals. Requests for an apology from Wiseman and the IPRA went unanswered. (A picture of the obscene gesture is displayed on this site)

July 1998 DuPage County Fair Rodeo, Wheaton, Illinois (Lazy C Rodeo Company)Multiple horses with open wounds on face. Having been exposed for the use of 5,000-volt electric shock devices to force animals to "perform" the previous year, the rodeo placed a man crouched behind the chutes, sticking animals with a pointed object similar to an ice pick. The rodeo was again busted with high-powered video cameras.

August 1998 Effingham County Fair (Illinois Bullriders Association) Numerous piglets injured during "pig scramble," in which children are encouraged to tackle or jump on tiny piglets. One piglet escapes into field. 5,000-volt electric shock device used to force animals to "perform."

August 1998 Kendall County Fair Rodeo, Yorkville, Illinois (IPRA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

August 1998 Minnesota State Fair Rodeo (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

September 1998 Gurnee FOP Rodeo, Lake County, Illinois (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

January 1999 National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO (PRCA) A bucking horse crashed into a wall headfirst and died from a broken neck. In a second incident during the same rodeo, a bucking horse had his back broken and was killed.

May 1999 Montgomery Rodeo in Skillman, NJ (APRA) Electric prods used to force the animals to "perform."

June 1999 Rodeo in Santa Maria, California Three horses fall at a full run. Two were sustained leg injuries; limping as they left the arena.

1999 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada One horse killed

June 1999 Rodeo in Long Island City, New York Police fire 40 shots at an escaped rodeo bull. It took fifteen minutes for the animal to bleed to death.

July 1999 Wauconda Rodeo in Wauconda Illinois (IPRA) One child injured during sheep riding, multiple flank strap wounds on horses, multiple horses with injured legs. No further information given on outcome of either wounded animals or children.

July 1999 Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (PRCA) One horse killed.

July 1999 Rodeo in Columbus, Ohio A rodeo bull was shot and killed by police after breaking free.

July 1999 Kane County Fair Rodeo, St. Charles, Illinois (IPRA) One bull used with open cuts. Many animals shocked with 5,000 volt prods to force them to "perform."

July 1999 Ford City, Pennsylvania A rodeo bull suffers an "anxiety attack" and jumped an eight-foot fence to escape.

August 1999 Can-Am Rodeo in Ottawa, Canada A bucking horse suffers a broken neck when he slammed into a fence. Spectators watched the horse go into death shudders after breaking his neck.

August 1999 Santa Barbara, California Fiesta Rodeo A bucking horse died from a fractured skull after slamming into the arena wall.

September 1999 Castro Valley California Cowboy Gathering and Ranch RodeoBucking horse suffers a broken leg.

1999 Rapid City Rodeo in South Dakota (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

November 1999 Silver Springs Rodeo Grounds, Kissimmee, Florida Bull suffers a broken leg broken and is killed.

February 2000, San Antonio, Texas A bucking horse has his spine snapped. Paralyzed, the horse dragged himself by his front legs across the stadium before collapsing. The horse was killed. Rodeo officials said that this incident, and a couple of calves with fractured legs at the previous year's rodeo were "freak accidents."

March 2000 World's Toughest Rodeo in Des Moines, Iowa (PRCA) Many animals shocked with 5,000-volt prods to force them to "perform."

May 2000 Rodeo in Spokane, Washington A bull escaped from a bull-riding contest and ran down the interstate before being hit by a car. Although shot at by police, the bull disappeared into the woods before being recaptured three days later.

May 2000 Montgomery Rodeo in Skillman, NJ (APRA) Electric prods used to force the animals to "perform." One bull suffered bleeding ears and horns.

May 2000 Festival of Flags Rodeo in Killeen, Texas (PRCA) Two horses injured. One suffered facial lacerations, and one a leg injury. No veterinarian on site, which is a violation of PRCA humane rules. In fact, the rodeo veterinarian stated that only the horse with the facial lacerations was reported to him. In addition, the vet said he had been required to sign a PRCA form listing the animals injured at the rodeo, and that only one horse, the one with the facial lacerations, had been listed.

Also, PRCA rules require a conveyance to remove injured livestock. The rodeo vet stated that he never saw such a conveyance.

June 2000 Livermore Rodeo in Livermore, California (PRCA) A bucking horse broke her neck and died. Although two reporters from the Tri-Valley Herald witnessed the death, and although the paper's photographer took pictures, there was no mention of the accident. This illustrates how some media is willing to cover-up the truth about rodeo cruelty.

July 2000 National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) Finals Rodeo, Springfield, Illinois Dozens of animals shocked, and many animals subjected to extreme tail twisting and tail raking. Shocking animals to make them perform violates NHSRA humane rules.

Initial reports from the NHSRA indicate no animals injured. However, following a SHARK press conference wherein footage of cruelty violations and injury did occur, the NHSRA admitted six animals were injured.

Repeated attempts by SHARK to establish dialogue with NHSRA management, including registered letters, proved unsuccessful.

September 2000 Bell County Fair Rodeo in Belton, Texas (PBR) Bulls shocked while in chutes to make them buck from pain.

October 2000 Arkansas State Fair Rodeo in Little Rock, Arkansas (PRCA) Many animals shocked in chutes, which violates PRCA humane rules.

October 2000 rodeo in Liberty, Texas (PRCA) Many animals shocked in chutes, violating the PRCA's humane rules. There was also a "Calf Scramble," in which over a dozen children were set upon very small calves. For over 15 minutes, the children treated the calves so roughly that over half the young animals collapsed from stress and exhaustion. Treatment included headlocks tail pulling and twisting, dragging, jumping on them, etc.

Calves who wouldn't or couldn't get up on their own were manhandled to their feet by their ears and tails by a rodeo clown.

October 2000 PRCA Texas Regional Steer Roping Finals in Del Rio, Texas (PRCA) The worst tail raking ever witnessed by SHARK investigators. There was no veterinarian on site when a steer was injured, which violates PRCA humane rules.

The victim was rolled onto a sled, dragged to a gate, rolled off the sled and dragged out of sight without a prior checkup, possibly increasing the seriousness of the injury. Personal conversations with rodeo employees indicated the steer suffered a dislocated shoulder, while other employees said the steer was perfectly fine. This would lead to the question of why a "perfectly fine" animal was dragged out of the arena.

Rodeo employees admitted there was no veterinarian present. The fate of the injured steer is unknown.

November 2000 Grand National Rodeo at the San Francisco Cow Palace (PRCA) A bull suffers a broken neck and dies. The rodeo announcer says the bull is just knocked out, and claims "this has happened hundreds of times." The announcer went on to make jokes about how the bull was "gonna have a big headache when he wakes up."

December 2000 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada (PRCA) A calf was injured during calf roping. The degree of injury is unknown. Several witnesses declared the calf dead due to the trauma she suffered, and as she was motionless the entire time she was being removed. The PRCA claimed the calf recovered. However, the PRCA has not supplied SHARK with video footage that could be used to review the incident, in spite of the fact the PRCA has multiple cameras filming every contestant of every event. This fact, plus the PRCA's history of covering up animal injuries and deaths, indicates to us that the calf did indeed die.

Beginning in 2001, SHARK started attending more and more rodeos and the amount of injuries that we documented just skyrocketed. Far too many to enumerate here. Countless animals have been injured and killed at rodeos - and SHARK's cameras have documented some of it. Please visit our YouTube channel to view the videotape, we must warn you however that with hundreds of videos, the evidence is as voluminous as it is graphic. The amount of cruelty and death that rodeo inflicts upon animals is truly staggering.

The PRCA: Too cowardly to debate

Since SHARK's inception, only once has anyone from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the world's largest rodeo association, agreed to a public debate with SHARK's President, Steve Hindi--and that was in 1997 for five minutes. (See that "debate" here.) Despite repeated and standing offers by SHARK to meet anywhere, anytime, no one from any rodeo association has had what it takes to walk all that tough talk, and candidly and openly discuss the issues of animals in rodeo. 

SHARK's most recent offer went out to PRCA Commissioner Troy Ellerman. Similar debate challenges have gone out to the two previous commissioners of the PRCA--with no response. SHARK is giving the PRCA an opportunity to blunt the public relations damage our efforts, especially our video documentation, are causing to the rodeo industry. However, we are not holding our breath in expectation that Troy Ellerman, anyone at the PRCA, or anyone in the rodeo world will "Cowboy Up."

The real reason rodeo is afraid to debate SHARK? They know their abuse is indefensible. 

January 23, 2007
Mr. Troy Ellerman, Commissioner
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
101 Pro Rodeo Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Dear Commissioner Ellerman:

I am hoping you might be willing to help me with a problem. Virtually every day we receive emails, and sometimes phone calls and letters, from rodeo people challenging us about our work. Much of the communication from these people is threatening, obscene and anonymous, and some of it can be viewed on our RodeoCruelty.com web site. We don’t take that communication too seriously, but for those who are sincere, we would like to provide them with answers, but there simply isn’t enough time in the day to keep repeating the same answers for the same questions over and over again.

People claim that we don’t know what we are talking about, even though we almost certainly know more about rodeo humane rules than they do. They challenge us to attend a rodeo and see for ourselves how the animals are treated. Good grief – how do they think we end up with all the video footage and still pictures that document abuse and humane rules violations? These folks claim that we are not giving rodeo a fair shake, and that we have it all wrong.

Conversely, I am told that humane-minded people similarly contact the PRCA about concerns they have on issues. When this happens, they are often given to Cindy Schonholtz, the PRCA’s so-called “Humane Coordinator.” While this may seem like a logical thing to do based on Ms. Schonholtz’s title, the fact is that Ms. Schonholtz has absolutely no power or even a desire to enforce the PRCA’s humane rules. In fact, Ms. Schonholtz’s true focus appears to be aimed at covering up humane violations and violators, as evidenced by her continued refusal to release records of disciplinary actions or animal injuries/deaths. Also, I am unaware of any humane initiatives by Ms. Schonholtz within the PRCA or in any other area. In any case, humane-minded people contacting the PRCA rarely get their questions answered.

Troy, its seems to me that SHARK and the PRCA have a similar problem in that we just can’t respond to all of the people who have questions about our respective work. Fortunately, I think I just may have a solution to the problem – a debate. I’m not talking about a brief debate like the one held about ten years ago in Las Vegas on live television just before the National Finals Rodeo. That debate was between Dr. Doug Corey and me, and can also be viewed on SHARK’s RodeoCruelty.com site. I realize that you rodeo folks figured that Dr. Corey was in a good position to debate me because he was a veterinarian, but I think everyone can pretty much agree that he took a real beating. Furthermore, there was a difficult time constraint that everyone was working with, so maybe Dr. Corey just didn’t have adequate time to make his points. I know for certain I would have liked more time to make mine.

I think we should hold another debate – a nice long one – and maybe even more than one, until we get the issues out there in plain sight for everyone. I think the best people to be involved in the debate would be you, as head of the PRCA, the world’s largest rodeo association, and me, as head of SHARK, the number one organization in the world investigating and exposing rodeos.

There are a number of reasons that would seem to make this a contest weighted in your favor. You are a college graduate, while I never even attended college. You are a successful lawyer, trained in debate and winning arguments, while I am a mere working person. You are a professional rodeo cowboy; one might say that as PRCA commissioner you are the ultimate professional cowboy, while I am a mere humane volunteer.

In spite of these apparent disadvantages, I am willing to go forward, and for one reason. I think that if you debate me I will win, not because of my oratory skills, but because our investigations have yielded irrefutable evidence that neither you nor anyone else in the rodeo world can defend. If you choose not to debate me, it will be for the very same reason.

I am really tired of hearing about the PRCA’s humane rules when there is precious little evidence that these rules are enforced. I want a shot at outing these rules as wholly ineffective, like the rules requiring a veterinarian at every performance, when the penalty for not complying is far less than the cost of having a vet onsite. Another example that caught my attention was the 2006 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. As you know, stock contractor Chad Burch was caught using the electric prod repeatedly on horses. The November 18, 2006 edition of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reports that the fine for shocking animals in chutes is supposed to be $250 for the first offense, with fines for each subsequent violation doubling. However, the article states that Mr. Burch was fined $500. Troy, how can there be a $500 fine? If Mr. Burch was found to have shocked one animal that would be a $250, and if he shocked two animals, that would be a $750 fine. But Mr. Burch was charged $500??? Besides, since the rodeo judge estimated that Burch shocked about a third of his horses that means the fine should have been many thousands of dollars. A debate would give you a chance to explain this curious matter.

Also, you may remember that SHARK held a December 2004 press conference in which we released video footage of numerous PRCA stock contractors we had documented committing humane violations. Harry Vold was one of those stock contractors. Vold’s staff, including his own daughter Kirsten, were videotaped shocking dozens of animals daily at the American Royal rodeo in Kansas City, Missouri. Since the PRCA received a copy of our video footage, there should have been a fortune paid to the PRCA for humane violations. Nevertheless, Mr. Vold claims that he has never been fined.

Tell you what – if you choose to debate me, I will promise not to bring up the investigation the FBI is conducting over your alleged role in the leak of the BALCO grand jury transcripts. [Mr. Ellerman subsequently went to Federal prison for several years and turned in his lawyer license.] I won’t bring up the legal history of PRCA people like Mike Cervi or Greg Kesler or others (see www.CowboyCriminals.com for their issues). We’ll just stick to the subject of rodeo. If that isn’t enough of an inducement for your personal involvement, I will happily debate someone else that you appoint for the task, so long as that person speaks in the name of the PRCA. Come on, Troy, isn’t it time to finally “Cowboy Up?”

I suggest that the debate(s) be videotaped, and that each side gets a copy of what is videotaped. The people from both sides of the issue and the public at large can view it and decide for themselves. That seems as fair as anything can get.

I have written you before on various rodeo concerns and issues and have yet to receive even the courtesy of a reply. I hope this time will be different, and that you might respond. I realize that it is an embarrassment when SHARK documents explicit animal abuse and humane violations of PRCA rules that happen in plain view of PRCA judges. Nevertheless I would have hoped that the toughness that is boasted nonstop by the industry might persuade you to actually walk your tough talk. This is my hope, but I won’t hold my breath while waiting.

Please respond within fourteen days. Otherwise I’ll be left with the impression you just don’t have what it takes.

Sincerely,
Steve Hindi
President, SHARK

Walker County Fair Abruptly Bans All Cameras at Rodeo

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Walker County Fair officials have decided to ban all still and video cameras at the Huntsville, TX rodeo. The decision to ban all cameras was apparently made because otherwise they would have had to allow an investigator with SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness) to also film.

SHARK investigator Steve Hindi arrived at the Walker County Fairgrounds on Tuesday afternoon at approximately 1:45 p.m. Barrel Racing and Steer Roping Slack was set to begin at 2:00 p.m. Hindi observed signs proclaiming “NO STILL OR VIDEO CAMERAS ALLOWED.” Inside the rodeo grounds, there were numerous people with video cameras, and Hindi observed a number of those cameras in use throughout the grounds even before the events began.

Hindi approached a county fair official and gave him the settlement agreement resulting from a Federal lawsuit in which SHARK sued the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) for falsely claiming copyrights on rodeos. A settlement was reached in part because live rodeos are neither copyrighted nor copyrightable.

Additionally, as part of the settlement agreement, the PRCA paid $25,000 to SHARK, and agreed to the following:

“The PRCA, its subsidiaries, its agents and its affiliates...will not discriminate in their enforcement of any provision forbidding rodeo ticket holders or other attendees from videotaping or photographing rodeo events...”

When faced with this new reality, Walker County Fair officials decided to enforce a total ban on cameras in the middle of Tuesday’s performance, much to the dismay of the numerous attendees already videotaping and taking pictures.

SHARK representatives will be on hand for the rodeo this weekend to make certain the ban is enforced. If the ban is not enforced, SHARK will return to Federal Court for redress.

Real Rodeo Debate: Bring it on!

Rodeo people spend a lot of time defending their abuse of animals. They think that using words like "animal athletes" to describe their victims will somehow fool the public into thinking that animals in rodeos have chosen this excuse for a life.

However, when faced with the prospect of publicly debating an animal defender from SHARK, Rodeo Thugs always run scared. SHARK has a standing offer to openly debate any rodeo organization: Anytime. Anywhere.

Not since 1997, when SHARK President Steve Hindi discredited every point made by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's favored vet, Doug Corey, on live television in Las Vegas, has anyone from this cruel industry agreed to a debate. 

What do you get when the world's largest rodeo association pits its favorite veterinarian against SHARK's president in a debate about rodeos? One very nervous, sweaty, discredited and near-tears rodeo vet! Click below to watch SHARK's Steve Hindi vs. PRCA's Doug Corey.

Animal Abuse Inherent in Rodeo

Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS, JD

"In order for a calf roper to become proficient he must spend a great deal of time practicing. Baby calves sold to the practice pens are roped over and over until they are injured or killed."

During the course of my lifetime, I have been a farmer, bareback bronc rider in the rodeo, a large animal veterinarian, a medical researcher, a meat inspector, a state veterinarian, and a prosecutor. I have also worked with the media as a consultant on animal abuse issues including rodeo and PMU horses.

Based upon my extensive experience with large animals, I have come to the conclusion that rodeo events are inherently inhumane. The most cruel are the roping events.

In calf roping, baby calves weighing less than 300 pounds are forced to run at speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour when they are roped. The reason they run at such high speeds is that they are being tortured in the holding chute. Their tails are twisted, their tails are rubbed back and forth over the steel bars of the chute and they are shocked with electric prods until the gate opens. They burst out of the chute at top speed only to be stopped short -- clotheslined -- with a choking rope around the neck. They are often injured and some are killed. These calves would still be with their mothers on pasture if they were not in the rodeo.

Click here to read an excellent interview of Former Bronc Rider and Rodeo Veterinarian Peggy Larson by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR)

In order for a calf roper to become proficient he must spend a great deal of time practicing. Baby calves sold to the 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. He stated that 2 or 3 calves are injured in each practice session and have to be replaced.

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 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."

A career USDA meat inspection veterinarian, Dr. Robert Fetzner, Director of Slaughter Operations for FSIS (USDA) 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 ligamenta nuchae are broken necks.

This is the cruel fate of baby cows in rodeos.

"As with roping calves, tripping steers may be used over and over again in practice sessions. When they are crippled from the repeated abuse, they are sent to slaughter."

As with calf roping, steer tripping puts a rodeo animal at extreme risk of injury or death. Steers weighing approximately 700 pounds are forced to run at top speed while the roper throws the rope around the steer's horns. The roper then flips the rope over the right side of the steer, while turning his galloping horse to the left.

Within a split second, the steer's head and neck are jerked 180 degrees and more, causing the animal to be violently tripped, rolled and dragged for approximately 30 feet. That's a 700 pound body being dragged by the neck, with the horns digging into the dirt. Sometimes the horns fracture. The stress to the neck is enormous.

The roper's intent is to make the steer sustain a sufficiently violent fall and subsequent dragging to stun him. The purpose of the stunning is merely to enable the roper to tie the steer's legs for a score. If the steer is not sufficiently stunned in the first attempt, he may be tripped and dragged repeatedly in the same run until he stays down.

Click here to read about the cruel and outdated position of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) regarding rodeos.

These steers are usually very thin, with sores on their backs and hips. They appear to be depressed, not lively. They are used so often that their injuries do not have time to heal. As with roping calves, tripping steers may be used over and over again in practice sessions. When they are crippled from the repeated abuse, they are sent to slaughter.

Animals also injured and killed in other rodeo events.

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 to repeatedly shock the bulls as they stand trapped in the bucking chute. Bucking straps and spurs can cause the bull to buck beyond his capability and his legs or back can be broken. Eventually, when bulls cease to provide a wild ride, they too are sent to slaughter.

Bronc riding, both saddle and bareback, causes the deaths of many rodeo horses. It is common for horses in these events to crash blindly into posts in the fencing around the arena or into the holding fencing and chutes. Bucking horses must be spurred over the shoulders on each jump or buck for the rider to qualify. The spurs cause blunt trauma to the shoulders which again never have time to heal properly before the horse is ridden and spurred in another rodeo.

The bucking strap often causes 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.

"Instead of humanely euthanizing the suffering animal, the rodeo people chose to ship her, leg dangling, across two states in a transport truck with other horses. She died before she could be killed at the slaughterhouse."

Horses (and cattle) have to be shipped from one rodeo to the next, often in double-deck trailers. These trailers are very dangerous because the horses often fight during transport. The same type of fighting may occur with the bulls when they are shipped.

Dr. Temple Grandin at Colorado State University works with the cattle industry on humane treatment of animals. She states one case in which a bucking horse suffered a badly broken front leg. Instead of humanely euthanizing the suffering animal, the rodeo people chose to ship her, leg dangling, across two states in a transport truck with other horses. She died before she could be killed at the slaughterhouse.

Dr. Grandin also states that transport injuries and fighting are major causes of injuries in horses. Rodeo animals are constantly in transit.

Steer wrestling also causes injuries and deaths. In this event a steer is forced to run at top speed while a contestant leaps from his horse, grabs the horns of the steer and twists his neck until he falls to the ground.

In one case involving a rodeo steer in Connecticut the steer did not fall when the rider jumped on his head. In response, the competitor violently twisted the steer's head again. When he fell, the steer suffered a broken neck.

A number of cities across the US have passed ordinances eliminating rodeo's tools of torture -- the electric prod, spurs and the flank strap -- all of which use pain to force the animals to "perform." It is no accident that where these devices are eliminated, rodeos disappear. Without torture, there can be no rodeo.

In my opinion, and based on my extensive training and experience, it is impossible to create a humane rodeo.