Rodeo Funding Opposed

Albuquerque Journal

Friday, January 13, 2006

By Leslie Linthicum

Journal Staff Writer

A truck bearing three big video screens circled the State Capitol Building in Santa Fe Thursday evening, showing nasty scenes of injured calves and steers and other seldom-seen slices of rodeo life.

Steve Hindi, the president of the national animal protection group Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, was driving the truck to call attention to Gov. Bill Richardson's support for rodeo in New Mexico.

Hindi said he had a cordial meeting with Richardson last summer to dissuade him from funding a state rodeo initiative. Hindi said he told the governor New Mexico should spend its time and money on addressing real problems like poverty, not on a cruel sport.

When Richardson announced more than $750,000 in funding for rodeo programs last week, Hindi gassed up the truck and headed from his home in Illinois for Santa Fe. "I want him to be held accountable for what he's done," Hindi said.

Richardson spokesman Jon Goldstein said the governor is a strong supporter of animal rights but he also likes rodeo, which helps to promote tourism and create jobs in rural New Mexico.

Robert Detweiler, a team roper from Carlsbad who chairs the Governor's Rodeo Council, said Hindi's group is bucking out of the wrong chute. "People who think we're out there mistreating animals are just wrong," Detweiler said.

He said stock contractors take good care of horses, bulls, steers and calves because it's good business while ropers save precious seconds by keeping animals on their feet.

"Yes, I have seen an animal get hurt," he said, "but the percentage is minimal."

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