Horse's death sparks rodeo welfare calls


July 28, 2009

Animal welfare advocacy group SHARK has released a video of one of the horses who was killed during the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo this month.

The horse who died, Strawberry Fudge, was a four-year-old bucking mare. She died on July 19 after rearing up and falling over backward soon after leaving the chute.

Organisers said she died while being treated for head or neck injuries. The cowboy riding the horse, Brett Olive of Kansas, was pinned underneath but escaped injury. Strawberry Fudge was owned by Vold Rodeo Company.

SHARK is using the video as part of its rodeo cruelty campaign and its protest about the sponsorship of rodeo by Coca-Cola.

SHARK warned viewers that the video "is very painful to watch".

"But I would ask that you use that pain as motivation to call Coca-Cola and demand that the Company withdraw its support of the vicious and deadly spectacle that is rodeo," said SHARK president Steve Hindi.

The group is holding a press conference in Cheyenne today to present video documentation of other welfare issues at the Cheyenne rodeo.

PETA also responded to the death of Strawberry Fudge, and has written to Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) chairman Keith Martin asking for a ban on flank straps on bucking horses.

"There is absolutely no excuse for forcing animals to buck to the point that they injure or kill themselves," PETA Director Debbie Leahy said. "The sole purpose of a flank strap is to inflict pain so that animals will flail wildly to get it off.

"The time has come to do away with these cruel devices."

PRCA spokesperson Cindy Schonholtz said the association "relies upon veterinarians with livestock experience to offer expertise on livestock welfare policies, including specifications for equipment. Flank straps are designed to enhance the kicking actions of animals that are bred to buck.

"Livestock welfare surveys conducted by on-site veterinarians at PRCA rodeos continue to show the livestock are well-cared for, the rate of injuries are extremely low and the equipment safe." 

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