Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are Rodeos Cruel

Anna Sewell once wrote a book called Black Beauty. She wrote this book to educate adults about cruelty and abuses towards horses. Anna's book did cause things to improve for many horses of the time, and has since been important in encouraging people to support kindness to horses, however to deny that any cruelty to horses does not exist now is just false.

Although cruelty does exist in many equestrian disciplines (and in some methods of training), it is the rodeo industry that often comes under attack by animal welfare advocates, and rightfully so. Can't we just agree that rodeos are cruel? Apparently not!

People in the rodeo industry, and many fans, often defend rodeos as not being cruel. It's a shame they cannot at least admit cruelty exists but be honest about finding some enjoyment in it. It would at least be more honest than saying that raking spurs along a horse's shoulder is not cruel. How can throwing a rope around a running calf's neck and jerking it to a sudden stop, not be cruel? And those are just the better known rodeo events. There are many rodeo events that are quite rough that are not televised, including wild pony chases where miniature horses soon learn to be terrified of humans.

Does the horse look happy?

How can anyone watch a horse, pinched with a painful strap around its groin, bucking, being “raked” by spurs and not say it's cruel? If you find entertainment in that, you should at least have the balls to admit that the animal is not enjoying it.

To say that something is not cruel, when clearly the animal is not having much fun, shows a greater ignorance. If the rodeo fans, and participants, want to live in denial, being somehow blissfully unaware that livestock animals do feel fear and pain, then they are fools.

Not intentional, but the rope is pressing on the one eye.
How can anyone watch a horse so terrified it throws itself over, and say “Oh no, perfectly fine, no cruelty here!”? How can anyone watch a calf die of a broken neck (admittedly rare but it does happen) as a result of being roped when running, and say “Yup, not cruel, totally normal.”?

This is not to excuse cruelty in other equestrian disciplines (often people in the rodeo start pointing fingers when the rodeo is criticized as being cruel), it is simply to say that rodeos are more for enjoyment of people, than animals. Why can't people at least “cowboy up” and admit it? Rodeos are cruel, if you like them, that is your choice, and well... deal with it.

Photos are from Wikimedia Commons.

You can read more on the debate of Rodeo Cruelty if you wish.


  1. i never see directly how a rodeo goes on, just got a chance to watch it on TV. but i do agree with you that rodeo is just a mean to torture the horse. one thing we should remember that it is an old traditional game. and no matter how cruel it is, it will be hard to stop.

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