Rodeo Dishonors True Cowboy Heritage [Video]

Utah has a long and authentic history of pioneers, traders, and cattlemen who “tamed” the wild west. These people lived on the range, grazed their animals, and made their living in a rugged, hostile environment. We called them “cowboys” or “wranglers.” Even today, they exist here in Utah – they are rare, but they are true cowboys who raise cattle on the open range, roping and riding for a living. They care about their animals, because it is their life’s work, and in this modern age of factory farming, truly a labor of love, and better for all involved.

And it is fitting to honor their way of life with a celebration that is also authentic and captures their spirit and determination. People here are proud of their heritage, and rightfully so.

Unfortunately, the rodeo as we know it today, does not accomplish that, because it is a sham.

Rodeo was born from Hollywood Westerns, not reality.  The 1930s was truly a decade of Silver Screen cowboys, with such legends as John Wayne and Gene Autry.   Scores of “old west” movies were released during the 30s, no less than 45 of them in 1936 alone, when Ogden Pioneer Days was established.

The rodeo “cowboy” image feeds from a stereotype that never really existed – and is now a commercial enterprise which pointlessly harms domesticated, tame animals — apparently to prove that we humans are “superior” to livestock. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m pretty secure about that myself, being one who has opposable thumbs, linguistic skills, and walks upright. Why do animal advocates protest the rodeo? This clip sums it up pretty well.

What can we say about a “sport” in which a tame, domesticated animal is tormented into bucking a rider off its back? They buck because they have tight strap cinched around their flanks and genitals – if that isn’t enough, they are shocked, and the “cowboys” twist their tails until they are sufficiently enraged and in enough pain to bolt from the chute. Want to know how fierce rodeo bulls really are? This clip should enlighten you.

As far as authentic skills, real cowboys have never ridden bulls (unless as a drunken dare – but it would be news to me if Utah began formally celebrating drunken dares)… and  the goal is not to teach the bull to allow a rider on its back, but to make the bull throw the rider. Even 12 year old boys are allowed to participate in this event, sometimes with tragic endings.

What else can we say about a “sport” in which adults put 4 to 6 year old children on the backs of animals so they can be thrown to the ground (“mutton busting”)? Sheep were never a transportation animal, so this is hardly an authentic cowboy skill either… moreover, I know I’m not alone in thinking this is a form of reckless endangerment to children. I don’t understand how this could possibly constitute “entertainment” for parents to watch.

And so on it goes… steer wrestling… timed calf roping… real cowboys don’t wrestle steer to the ground, and they would not risk injuring a young calf with the rough jerking and dragging by the neck that we see in rodeo events.  Compare these two clips for yourself -

Rodeo Calf Roping:

Real Cowboys Roping Calves. Can you imagine the stampede you’d see if the cowboys roped animals like rodeo performers do?

As a vegan, I’m not keen on branding animals with hot irons or other facets of raising animals as food – my personal choice is to not support these practices by not buying meat, dairy, or leather – but clearly, the authentic cowboy lifestyle bears little resemblance to what performers do in the rodeo as a “sport.” Real cowboys do what is necessary to raise the animals… there is an enormous difference.

And so our tribute to the real cowboys should be something more honorable and more honest than mindless, pointless cruelty to the very animals that provide a living for them, including horses, which have served them so faithfully in the west.

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17 Responses to Rodeo Dishonors True Cowboy Heritage [Video]

  1. Jesse G says:

    I’m not generally a fan of PETA, but I am definitely against animal torture, especially for entertainment. To think you’re a man because you can put a tortured, harmless beast in its “place” is pathetic. A true cowboy cares for his animals.

  2. Bill says:

    Rodeo girl…the IDEA that hollywood represents. It is a circus. It is entertainment. It is not reality even though it takes place in real time. Ms Burt did a fine job of exposing the truth. I am sorry that it burst your poor little romantic notion of rodeo. Horses are beautiful creatures. One of God’s most majestic of animals. But dragging a tame calf around by its horns and prodding them with electrical devices and such (as much as they lie about it and deny it) Is not true to a real cowboy spirit. Anymore than paintball is to being a real soldier. Or playing Rockband is to being a real musician.
    Alas, my poor dear little cowgirl…it is you who needs an education. I am thankful for Ms Burts efforts.

  3. cowgirl says:

    Catherine Burt- You are either lying or you don’t know how to research a topic that you claim to be an expert. Rodeo was not born out of Hollywood. The first rodeos took place before hollywood existed. Do research, educated yourself and then write a blog.

  4. Catherine Burt says:

    Re: Steve
    “try and not ruin honest people’s lives cathy, with your lies and bledding heart where it is not necessary.

    http://www.seniorrodeo.com/animals_welfare.php

    See response above, regarding the enforcement of “humane rules” by rodeo associations, at least the PRCA, which sanctions Ogden’s Pioneer Days.

    - CB

  5. Catherine Burt says:

    Cowgirl, thanks for your comments. Let me see if I can respond to this…

    “Cathy, you are a complete idiot [...]“

    If you don’t have a salient argument, resort to name calling and personal insults. That’s one.

    “who claims to have done the research and know it all.”

    You seem to have something against research and facts. Not my problem.

    “The videos you have provided are taken at rodeos that are unsanctioned by any association. Unsanctioned rodeos are unsanctioned because they don’t want to follow the rules.”

    Wrong. The calf roping video was from the Houston Livestock Rodeo, which is a PRCA sanctioned rodeo, according to their web site. Here is the link to the clip on youtube with further information about it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijRRDwN9vN8

    If you want a bibliography of the Hard Copy clip, go to http://www.sharkonline.org and request one – I’m sure they will be happy to provide it.

    “As mheiner stated before there are more rules protecting the animals than the humans. And obviously, you don’t know much about animals or rodeo to begin with.”

    The rules exist but are they enforced?
    Calf jerkdowns at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, despite its “humane policies”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzB5cwipR-w

    Yet more other… how many do you want?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZxL7umkbRo

    What am I going to believe… you or my own eyes?

    “Your question about why saddle broncs need a bucking strapped cinched around the flanks? (Your blog states they are also strapped around genitals…completely untrue!) “

    On a bull, the flank strap cinches down the urethra. Look that up for yourself if you don’t know what the urethra is, where it’s located on a bull, or why this is painful for them.

    “It’s not to make them buck to begin with. It is to enhance their performance.”

    My contention is that rodeo IS a performance and only a performance, and is not authentic. Your statement validates that.

    “Much the way other athletes enhance their performance with supplements.”

    Be careful now, or someone will come along and accuse you of *personifying* animals. We all know how dangerous that is.

    “The flank is a supplement.”

    Riiiight. That’s the ticket. A supplement.
    So the next time I go for a jog, I think I will cinch one of these amazing performance enhancing straps across my bladder very tightly. I’m surprised the cowboys themselves don’t use one, it might make them perform better too!

    “They WILL buck without a flank strap. And the flank strap is actually covered with fleece to protect the horse. The spurs are NOT digging into their sides. The rowels are dulled and must be able to move so the animals are not injured.”

    It doesn’t matter if the strap is covered in fleece, if it is cinched tightly it will hurt the animal. The spurs are spurs… are you trying to tell me that when the rider jabs the spurs into the bull (which they do), it tickles the bull, causing it to buck from laughter?

    What happened here to poor cinnebar, who obviously did not want to buck even with a flank strap on?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLeZXnP-LwU


    “Spurs with much larger and more damaging rowels are used by ranch cowboys on their horses on a daily basis. Professional cowboys are fined heavily if they cause damage to an animal. “

    I provided a clip of real cowboys roping calves… didn’t see any heel digging going on there. As for fines, I was unable to find a source for fines actually being imposed for animal injuries, although I don’t doubt that there is a rule about it somewhere.

    “Shocking any animal is not permitted at sanctioned rodeos.”

    It happens without permission then.
    Cheyenne Frontier Days 2007 (PRCA sanctioned), horse being shocked
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7poZuhymtRo

    Shocking horses at the Tucson PRCA rodeo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3U_i7zQ4l4

    Rowell Rodeo CA (PRCA sanctioned) shocking horses
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZRNiwlB034

    I’ve got more…

    “Every precaution is taken to protect rodeo livestock. They are a stock contractors way of life and those animals are every bit a part of the family as their kids are.”

    I sincerely hope they don’t treat their kids this way.

    “You need to pull your head out”

    That’s two.

    “and actually attend a SANCTIONED rodeo”

    Been there, done that. Don’t need to see more.

    “and have someone who actually knows the sport….not your cronies…”

    I have no cronies. I’m stating facts that speak for themselves.

    “give you a guided tour and inject your pea brain [...]“

    That’s three.

    ” Injures at sanctioned rodeos are few and far between. And the governing body for these sanctioned rodeos can provide you with the CORRECT information regarding those injuries.”

    They can but they don’t. The truth is, reported injuries at sanctioned rodeos are few and far between. No one is governing statistical information about animal injuries at rodeos. Injuries to calves and steers are barely acknowledged even when the crowd happens to see it. It would spoil the fun, now wouldn’t it, to announce that an animal was killed. The crowd is there for fun, not to know how many times an animal gets hurt while entertaining them.

    “There is not enough time in my day or room on this blog for me to continue. But, obviously, you need to be educated. Just because you can write, doesn’t make you an educated person. You have proven so with this blog.”

    My ability to write truthfully, supported by facts, and without ad hominem attacks makes me credible. I can’t say the same for you.

  6. steve says:

    try and not ruin honest people’s lives cathy, with your lies and bledding heart where it is not necessary.

    http://www.seniorrodeo.com/animals_welfare.php

  7. cowgirl says:

    Cathy, you are a complete idiot who claims to have done the research and know it all. The videos you have provided are taken at rodeos that are unsanctioned by any association. Unsanctioned rodeos are unsanctioned because they don’t want to follow the rules. As mheiner stated before there are more rules protecting the animals than the humans. And obviously, you don’t know much about animals or rodeo to begin with. Your question about why saddle broncs need a bucking strapped cinched around the flanks? (Your blog states they are also strapped around genitals…completely untrue!) It’s not to make them buck to begin with. It is to enhance their performance. Much the way other athletes enhance their performance with supplements. The flank is a supplement. They WILL buck without a flank strap. And the flank strap is actually covered with fleece to protect the horse. The spurs are NOT digging into their sides. The rowels are dulled and must be able to move so the animals are not injured. Spurs with much larger and more damaging rowels are used by ranch cowboys on their horses on a daily basis. Professional cowboys are fined heavily if they cause damage to an animal. Shocking any animal is not permitted at sanctioned rodeos. Every precaution is taken to protect rodeo livestock. They are a stock contractors way of life and those animals are every bit a part of the family as their kids are. You need to pull your head out and actually attend a SANCTIONED rodeo and have someone who actually knows the sport….not your cronies…give you a guided tour and inject your pea brain with some real knowledge. Injures at sanctioned rodeos are few and far between. And the governing body for these sanctioned rodeos can provide you with the CORRECT information regarding those injuries. There is not enough time in my day or room on this blog for me to continue. But, obviously, you need to be educated. Just because you can write, doesn’t make you an educated person. You have proven so with this blog.

  8. Cathy says:

    mheiner, thanks for your comments, I appreciate feedback on my blogs.

    That said, I’m going to take a stab in the dark that you didn’t actually read what I wrote, or watch the clips I provided, because for one thing, nowhere did I mention barrel racing. This is because I understand that horsemanship is an authentic cowboy skill. I don’t think barrel racing is inherently cruel.

    Does a horse love to rope? I’m guessing it loves doing what it’s trained to do, like any domestic animal. It probably is fun for them. On the other hand, does a calf like having its sensitive tail pulled and twisted so that it will bolt out of the chute… only to be roped by the neck, jerked backwards off its feet, slammed to the ground, and tied up? I doubt it. Especially not the ones that are sledded out or limp out of the arena. I have attended rodeos, I have seen it with my own eyes. The two clips at the bottom of this blog post demonstrate the difference between rodeo performers and real cowboys. Neither of those clips were made by animal rights people, both of them are accurate.

    Let’s talk about how much rodeo loves horses then because I left this out before. Why do “saddlebroncs” need a bucking strap cinched around the flanks if they “naturally want” to buck anyway? Why the spurs digging into its sides? Why do rodeo people shock these horses and torment them if they don’t “want” to buck? Well… it’s because this event is a pathetic, glamorized imitation of what real cowboys do. I know how horses are saddlebroken, it doesn’t involve a bucking strap, spurs, hot shots, or loud announcers. You know this too.

    And then there’s this (not just this poor horse, but read on… lots of injuries at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo this year – how can you be surprised that animal advocates protest rodeo? I’m not at all surprised that they tried to ban cameras a the CFD rodeo, it would be awful if people documented all this on video):

    http://wyomingnews.com/articles/2009/07/20/sports/19sports_07-20-09.txt

    We obviously have different definitions of the word “love.” Rodeo folks can keep theirs – mine seems more authentic.

    -CB

  9. mheiner says:

    I am not sure if you have ever been to a rodeo, i am going to take a stab in the dark that you have not. I do not think that it is fair that you judge something you know nothing about. i have been a rodeo cowgirl my whole life and i must tell you that the animals that are used in rodeo and taken care of much better then most of the families who own the animals. my animals always come first. i dont have children, my horses are my children and i take care of them just as if they lived in my home instead of in my barn. you do not understand anything about rodeo and that nothing in rodeo harms animals. there are more rules in rodeo to keep the animals safe then there are rules to keep the cowboys safe. animals in rodeo are athletes that are proud to do what they do. until you have sat on top of a barrel horse who has more hear and more try then any human will ever have you will not understand what i am talking about. until you have seen the enjoyment in a roping horses eye as he gets to do what he loves, you need to keep you mouth shut. i do not appreciate you bashing a sport that you do not know anything about. you can not compare rodeo to any old westerns. all of the events in rodeo came about because of real life ranch work. cowboys are proud people. they do not make millions like pro football players or basketball players, most make just enough to take care of their horses. and they forget about them selves. my suggestion would be for you to acutally attend a rodeo and see how the animals are cared for! you have no idea what you are talking about and i have to admit i find your ignorance rather entertaining! get a life!

  10. Cathy says:

    OK, justa coupla things.

    First off I did not lie. Your great-great-grandpa’s rodeo was a different scenario (I think I qualified this when I said rodeo as we know it today). There were informal meetups to compare skills among real cowboys… at the “rodeo” or “roundup” — they were also wild west shows (Annie Oakley et al)… the bulls actually were free range, and did not require tail twisting, shocking, and bucking straps to wind them up. Time line: Professional rodeo came into being in 1929… electric cattle prods weren’t widely used until the 30s. A much different scenario indeed.

    And if you think about it… if rodeo bulls and broncs were so wild and ferocious, how on earth would people get the bucking straps around them in the first place? Or get them into trailers? It’s all fake, what you see in the arena today.

    As far as tradition goes, well so was slavery at one time. Child labor, too. Should we bring it back? Nah didn’t think so.

    Now about the humans and whether I care about them… people who know me are laughing at you for saying it. But it’s consistent with your never having been to a rodeo but defending it.

    Finally, I’m not trying to “personify” animals. I want humans to “humanize.” Cruelty for the sake of proving human dominance is pointless. It doesn’t behoove us – we know better because we are dominant. Look around you if you feel insecure about that. Ignoring cruelty doesn’t make us better people – quite the contrary.

    - CB

  11. Bill says:

    Having grown up in Arizona I was exposed to a lot of rodeo. I have to admit that I loved the carnival like atmosphere. But, I also grew up around a lot of real wranglers. As much as the culture of rodeo is a part of their lives, I know that they were often pissed off at the way the animals were cajoled into being mean.
    What you point out is true. Even most working ranch hands would admit this. And most of the guys I met would never dream of harming the poor steers, etc. The cowboy life, as a real ranch hand, is a labor of love. It pays poorly and requires of lot of personal commitment. No body who works with cattle expects to get rich except for the uberlords who run the ranches and the posers who play the rodeo circuit. These folks are nothing more than professional wrestlers in a cowboy hat. The contests are fixed just like the wrestling. It is a circus. You are correct. There is nothing honoring the true wrangler tradition in the circus we call rodeo.

  12. steve says:

    easy cathy, i already donate to local homeless shelters and spend countless hrs volunteering for said projects. and honestly, i could care less about rodeos as i have not been to one. its simply a trend i see riptiding further and further down a road that will end with terrible consequences. the personification of animals is going beyond an extreme i will not venture down. this is an american tradition. and i honestly will doubt your founding of the american rodeo via hollywood grandure. i believe it went back further than the big screen. i have pics of my great great grandpa in a rodeo back in the 19th cent. you lied to further an agenda and that right there does more diservace thatn you can possibly hope to achieve with your animal activism. like i said, when you choose to care more for your own kind, maybe ill give you more of a thought. good day.

  13. Cathy says:

    Does anyone have any facts to dispute what I’ve said?

    Steve, tell you what. If you donate the money for your rodeo ticket to feed a homeless child, I will blog about how cool that is. You have your pastimes, I have mine. Maybe we could start a charity fund-raiser: For every person who donates $25 to homeless children, I will write a blog that doesn’t remind anyone about animal cruelty.

    - CB

  14. mheiner says:

    Do not dis a sport that you obviously know nothing about. I think you should try and get you facts straight before you start tearing apart animals that are athletes! Rodeo animals are treated better then most human beings treat eachother! You need to shut your mouth until you know the facts!

  15. steve says:

    holy damn lady…are you serious?? wonder what will be next. cry me a river and go bleed that heart of yours where it is really needed …umm,,,maybe for your own kind..ie, starving and homeless children ….everywhere.

  16. boj says:

    Sorry, take your crying elsewhere

  17. Pingback: Hollywood Video | All Days Long

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