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The truth about rodeo

The rodeo industry and its supporters have put forward many arguments to defend rodeo. Keep reading to learn the truth about rodeo and how to counter some of the most common arguments.

1. Animals used in rodeo are at risk of stress and injury.

Defenders of rodeo will often argue that rodeo animals are valuable, so they would not be mistreated or put at risk. This is like saying that race car drivers would not put their valuable cars at risk in motor racing. The fact is that the financial rewards outweigh the risk.

Professional rodeo offers large cash prizes and generates significant revenue for those involved. Rodeos are marketed as “exciting” because they are risky and fast-paced, putting animals in danger of stress and injury. For instance, recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

2. Rodeo animals have no choice.

Rodeo supporters will point out that other sports carry a risk of injury, such as boxing or racecar driving. The difference is that rodeo animals, unlike human athletes, have no choice in the matter.

Is it likely a calf or steer would choose to be roped and thrown to the ground? Would a bull choose to be goaded into an arena of thousands of screaming people with someone on his back and a belt tied around his hindquarters?

3. Rodeo events bear little resemblance to traditional ranch practices.

The rodeo industry markets itself as an important part of western heritage and tradition. In fact, most rodeo events bear little or no resemblance to real ranch practices, historic or modern.

For example, why would a real cowboy ride a bull? Why would a real cowboy want to make a horse buck with a flank strap?

A key issue is that rodeo events are timed, whereas real ranch practices are not. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice for Handling of Beef Cattle requires that animal handlers must use quiet handling techniques. Specifically, they recommend against animals falling during handling, and suggest using handling tools, such as flags, plastic paddles or rattles, to direct animal movement. Timing makes these events faster, more stressful and more dangerous to the animals. Real calf roping on ranches is a far more gentle practice in which calves are roped at slow speeds.

4. Rodeo is “a cruel detour to the slaughterhouse”.

Some rodeo supporters will argue against protecting animals from poor treatment in rodeos because they are going to be slaughtered anyway. The fact that some animals will eventually be slaughtered for food is not a justification for abusing them before they die.

Rodeo has been termed “a cruel detour to the slaughterhouse.” While we slaughter millions of animals every day for food, no one would suggest putting it on show, timing it and awarding a prize to the fastest slaughterhouse worker.

5. Events can replace rodeo with animal-friendly and family-friendly entertainment.

Although rodeo is still treated as family entertainment in many places, it is losing popularity as it continues to cause animal suffering.

Many rodeos are part of fairs or other cultural events. By dropping cruel rodeo events, these fairs can become more animal-friendly and family-friendly. They can also gain the support of the 59% of Canadians who oppose the use of animals in rodeo.

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