Rodeo Events

Calf Jerk-Downs

A cruel and deadly technique used to rope a calf

Thanks to SHARK's efforts, in 2012 the PRCA finally banned the cruel and deadly practice of calf jerk-downs - kind of...mostly

A jerk-down occurs in the calf roping event when the contestant ropes the calf and instead of bringing the rope taut and jerking the calf down on it's side - a cruel enough practice - the thug drops the lasso knot down in such a way that the calf is jerked off his feet straight backwards. The young animal then lands on his head and neck - this stuns the animal so that the contestant can tie the legs just a little bit quicker. However; it also very frequently causes life-threatening injuries to the calf.

As of 2012, rodeo propaganda claims that cruel jerk downs aren't allowed any longer, however SHARK still documented many instances of the cruel practice at the 2012 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. And whenever a calf is jerked-down you almost always see an injury.

For years a rule regarding jerk-downs was what the PRCA bizarrely called an 'optional' rule. Individual rodeos were allowed to ban the practice...or not if they didn't want to. This does a great job of exposing the complete fiction of the PRCA's supposed "humane rules."  Any organization that was serious about animal welfare would just ban the practice, not make it an "optional rule." And then finally, after being repeatedly exposed by SHARK, the PRCA supposedly banned the practice at all rodeos - after having allowed this incredibly cruel practice to continue for 76 years.

Calf "Jerked Down" and Killed at 2013 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo

From the PRCA Business magazine, March 15, 2013


Horse Tripping

Horse tripping is an incredibly cruel event which involves the roping of a horse's feet, forcing them to trip and fall. 

In 2012 SHARK's cameras documented a horse having his leg snapped at the Big Loop Rodeo in Jordan Valley, OR where horse tripping is their signature event. Based on the videotape below, in the spring of 2013, the Oregon legislature banned "intentional" horse tripping. Unfortunately accidental tripping still appears to be legal. Click here to read more.

Rodeo Horses Roped, Tripped, Slammed, Severely Abused 

2013 Horse Tripping Abuse in Harney County, Oregon 


You can download all the horse experts statements regarding the cruel practice of Horse Tripping below:

Here is a sample of those statements:


“Anyone tripping a horse as a sport is abhorrent to the vast majority of society. The horse is an iconic and much-loved symbol of the spirit of the United States. I fully support all efforts to end the sadistic practice of tripping horses as a form of deviant "entertainment" and fully endorse the attempts of state legislatures to curtail this barbaric activity.”

- Dr. Bernard E. Rollin. University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Professor of Animal Sciences, University Bioethicist at Colorado State University 


“The horse tripping event you describe in your email dated May 20, 2013 is not acceptable. Roping the front legs and causing the horse to fall is abusive. Compared to cattle, horses are more excitable and may be more likely to be injured.”

- Dr. Temple Grandin, Ph.D. Dr. Grandin is a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University


"I am a veterinarian with 8 years of treating horses and cattle in ranch country.  I was once a bareback bronc rider.

Rodeo has evolved from a fairly non-violent "semi-sport" into outright animal abuse.  Prods, wires in the anus, horse tripping, steer "busting", jerk downs, failure to treat injured animals, violent bucking due to painful procedures in the chute, and a general increase in animal fatalities and injuries.

I would not allow my children to see a rodeo.  I no longer attend rodeos. 

Rodeos have sunk to the level of overt animal abuse as documented by both rodeo attendees and by animal welfare proponents.

- Dr. Peggy W. Larson DVM, MS, JD


The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) opposes tripping, injuring or causing the death of horses, mules and donkeys for any entertainment purpose or during the training of such equids for any entertainment purpose.

- The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) & American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)



Expert Statements Against Horse Tripping


Despite of all this, perhaps not so surprisingly, the horse "(ab)use" industry still supports the cruelty of horse tripping. Read their statements below:

Individual Rodeo Events Exposed

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.

You can also see all of SHARK's rodeo exposés on YouTube by clicking here.

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.

Team Roping

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

At the 2007 National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, NV a scene of unspeakable cruelty played out during the Team Roping event.

A steer had his leg twisted and broken by the contestants and he was then trampled by a horse. Despite the fact that this animal was obviously injured, his left rear leg was completely snapped and flopping around, the rodeo thugs continued to brutally rope the animal. The suffering steer could barely stand on his own, yet the rodeo thugs continued to torment him. All right in front of a worthless PRCA judge who does nothing to stop the contestants. Proving once again that the welfare of the animals takes a distant backseat to "entertainment" at rodeos.

Keep in mind that these guys are the "best of the best" in the world of rodeo. The NFR is the "Superbowl of Rodeo." We'll leave it to your imagination to consider the cruelty that happens during this event at the thousands of regular rodeos across the country with their talentless, greedy contestants.

The Rodeo Mafia's use of Tail Twisting, Pulling & Raking

An animal's tail is an extension of the spine, and is extremely sensitive. Twisting, pulling or raking a tail back and forth over a fence is extremely painful for animals, and that is why the Rodeo Mafia likes it.

Tail twisting is used carefully and sparingly by veterinarians to move large animals. Rodeo people use extreme tail twisting to force tame, domesticated animals to act "mean" and "rank."

Tail twisting is mainly committed against calves and steers to make them run from chutes. However, all rodeo victims, including horses and bulls, may fall prey to tail twisting, raking and pulling. 

You can see some tail twisting in both of these videos:

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