Cowboys or Spin Doctors?

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) propaganda defends its abuse of animals by hiding behind tradition and culture, claiming that the events in rodeos are outgrowths of legitimate ranch work. Its all a lie -- hype and propaganda for a billion dollar industry based on cruelty and cover-ups. An examination of rodeo events shows precious little foundation in western culture. Click on the individual events to the left or below for more details.

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The Timed Events

Of the timed rodeo events, the roping events are the most dangerous to the calves and steers involved. Calves and steers are the cheapest animals to buy and replace, and injuring and killing them is simply considered a cost of doing business. A visitor to the PRCA Hall of Fame will note that none of the few animals that have been inducted are steers or calves. These animals upon which rodeo relies to put on a show aren't considered important enough to rate a mention in the Hall of Fame. They're considered disposable.

While roping was part of ranch work, it was a careful process meant to insure the wellbeing of the animals. Ranchers would never treat their animals the way they are treated in a rodeo, as injuring and killing their own livestock would drive them out of business.

Today's rodeo roping events are timed. Contestants who successfully rope the fastest are rewarded with large cash prizes. In rodeos, speed kills, injures and maims many of its animal victims. The roping events are the least supported events, even among average rodeo fans, but they are popular with the hardcore rodeo fanatics who consider calves and steers to be nothing more than throwaway animals.

Steer Busting is the very worst PRCA event, with dead and severely injured steers being dragged out of virtually every rodeo. Given the horrific brutality of the event, it is a wonder that any of them survive. Steer busting is the event that single-handedly belies the claim that rodeo people care about animals.

Calf Roping is also extremely cruel and causes many injuries and deaths. Additionally, abusing an animal that is only three to four months of age is an especially cowardly act.

Team Roping involves two contestants roping the head and rear legs of a steer and then pulling in opposing directions. Needless to say, this also results in many animal injuries.

Steer Wrestling was never part of ranch work. It is trivial, utterly pointless entertainment and nothing more. Steers often have their tails twisted and raked over fences to make them run out of the chutes. Once out, their necks are violently twisted, which can cause injury and death.

The Bucking Events

While bucking horses and bulls are treated with more consideration due to their greater monetary value and popularity, they are still abused, often injured and sometimes killed. Furthermore, they are only valuable to the rodeo industry as long as they are bucking, so they are forced to buck at any cost.

Bucking horses in the Old West were untamed horses who didn't need inducement to buck – they were wild. Today's bucking horses are tame, domesticated animals who are mistreated to artificially induce a "wild" appearance. They need to be tame because they spend half of their life riding around in trailers. So to trick rodeo fans, the PRCA rules require the use of a strap around their flank area that causes them to buck in a furious attempt to rid themselves of the device. PRCA rules also require that contestants constantly spur the horses during the event. Additionally, SHARK investigators have videotaped horses being beaten, shocked and otherwise abused to make them appear wild and mean. However, when the "ride" is over, these same animals are gentle and non-aggressive.

The rodeo industry attempts to deflect criticism of the methods employed to make horses buck by claiming their victims are "born to buck." Individual stock contractors now claim to have special breeding programs to produce horses that simply can't help but buck because a love of bucking is in their genes. We have one question for these less-than-honest individuals: If these horses love to buck, why do they have to be electrically prodded, cinched with flank straps, and spurred in order to get them to "perform"? And why do so many of them refuse to buck, resulting in these animals being further beaten and abused?

When they stop bucking, the rodeo horse is likely to end up in a slaughterhouse. While horse advocates nationwide have worked tirelessly to end the horror of horse slaughter, rodeo associations have worked equally hard to keep them open, thus giving the rodeo industry a way to make a little more money off their spent and broken victims.

Bull Riding was never a part of ranch work nor was it a mode of transportation. Like Steer Wrestling, Bull Riding is pointless, trivial entertainment and nothing more. Like bucking horses, bulls are subjected to flank straps (also known as buck straps) and constant spurring. Bulls are also subjected to other forms of mistreatment, most notably the use of electric shock to make them appear wild. Note that like the horses used in bucking events, bulls only buck and act wild while the various torments are applied. Before and after the torment, these animals are perfectly docile.

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