We are told that the rodeo is an important part of our heritage, that it is an authentic Western Canadian tradition reflecting the ranching and farming way of life. Actually, rodeos are a contrived spectacle that has little or nothing to do with the actual work done on ranches and farms. In fact, the rodeo was thought up by Guy Weadick, an America vaudeville and Wild West show performer. He then went on to introduce the chuckwagon races for the Stampede in 1923. The steer-wresting event was introduced in 1930s by yet another American Wild West show entertainer.
The truth is that the rodeo is just a profit making spectacle, marketed by greedy promoters and uninformed spectators. Today the rodeo continues unchecked as it bullies and brutalizes animals for profit and entertainment. This pervasive bullying—reinforced by sponsors and spectators—continues to wreak devastating consequences on animals: fractured spines, broken necks and limbs, paralysis, partially or totally severed tracheas, severe bruising which separates the skin from underlying muscles, internal and external bleeding. The terror and agony inflicted on animals is inexcusable—especially the violence inflicted on baby animals in the calf roping event.
There are two categories of events at rodeos, and wthin these two categories are seven standard
events. These events are sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA)
1. Roughstock Events
These are bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding. Each is a judged event and each requires the riders to stay on a bucking horse or bull for eight seconds. In these events the rider and the animal are both being judged. It is definitely in the best interest of the cowboy to ride a horse or a bull that bucks as wildly as possible, by increasing the difficulty of the ride he increases his overall points and a chance at a good sized paycheck.
The main issue with roughstock events is the need to provoke the animals. The Cowboys claim that these animals have been specially bred to buck and that this is just their natural temperament. The truth is that these animals are tormented by the rodeo handlers to make them appear wild. The Stock Contractor and and his personnel know exactly what to do if an animal is too docile. There are many undercover videos and pictures showing that abuse occurs right in the chute. Before an animal is about to perform, he or she could be subjected to tail-twisting, tail pulling, punching and even shocking. With all of the people and activity surrounding the chute it is easy to hide a hand held Hot-Shot and quickly deliver a jolt of 5000 volts to the face, neck, and body of an animal, and no one would notice it being slipped back into a pocket.
2. Timed events:
Calf-roping, steer wrestling, team roping, and ladies barrel racing. These are races for the best time.
The calf-roping event is now euphemistically called tie-down roping. A three to four month old calf runs terrified across the arena, only to get chased by a cowboy on horseback, clostheslined, wrestled to the ground and tied up. since the calf is generally flung in the air the cowboy then has to pick it up high enough so that a judge can see daylight between its hooves and the ground. This is called "daylighting". This is why you will usually see a cowboy hoist a calf up and slam him back down on the ground. Three of the legs must be tied to keep him from standing and running away. This is a brutal event that often leaves the calf seriously injured or dead.
Steer busting is the same thing as calf-roping but using a steer is used instead. Even though a steer has horns and weighs around 500 – 600 pounds, he is still easily tossed around in the arena by the Cowboy on horseback. Keep in mind these animals are running at top speed and then cruelly roped and jerked off their feet in one quick and violent strike.
Steer wrestling involves a hazer (to help force the steer to run a straight line down the arena) and a steer wrestler, also known as the bulldogger. Together they chase a steer and the bulldogger will jump off his horse and wrestle the steer to the ground.
A variation, the team roping event, involves two riders (The Header and The Heeler) on horseback chasing a steer. The aim of the header is to lasso the head of the animal, and the heeler to lasso the rear feet. both of these events have a high rate of injury to the animals.
A History of Protest
Voice for Animals Humane Society is committed to bringing the cruel Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) to an end. In November of each year, V4A stands as a reminder to those participating in the rodeo that the event is cruel and absolutely unnecessary form of entertainment. Currently, our campaign consists of protest and public education. We invite to stand with us all those who believe that the CFR must come to an end.
For more information on the rodeo, please visit the group Show Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK).