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Cheyenne rodeo addresses shock issue

By BOB MOEN
Casper Star Tribune
Friday, April 18, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Cheyenne Frontier Days is imposing stricter rules on the use of hand-held electric shock devices on horses in the annual rodeo.

"They're not going to be used to make them buck, they're not going to be used to move them in the chutes, they would be used only in the case of an emergency," Frontier Days spokesman Bob Budd said.

Budd said the devices still will have to be available in case a horse goes down in a chute or more than one horse becomes entangled and there is a danger of a horse injuring itself or the rider.

Until now, the rodeo known as the "Daddy of 'Em All" had followed the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules on the use of the battery-powered prodding devices, which are commonly used on ranches, feedlots and other places to move livestock.

The PRCA rules allow for shocking a horse before a ride if the stock contractor, the cowboy riding the horse and the PRCA judge all agree the horse might stall coming out of the chute.

An Illinois-based animal rights group has posted Internet videos showing rodeo hands appearing to use the devices during horse bucking events at last year's Frontier Days rodeo.

Steven Hindi, president of SHARK, or Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, has said horses were being shocked to make them buck, which he said is cruel and illegal.

Hindi said Friday he applauds Frontier Days for the change.

"If they're serious about that, then they absolutely deserve credit for taking a stand, and if they really enforce it, we will applaud that part of that change," he said.

Hindi has raised other issues about Frontier Days, saying the calf roping, steer roping and wild horse race events are also cruel to the animals.

The Matchbox Twenty rock group recently canceled its scheduled performance at Frontier Days this summer because of concern over the treatment of the animals at the rodeo. Hindi said the band withdrew after SHARK contacted it about Frontier Days.

Romeo Entertainment Group Inc., a Nebraska company that books entertainment for Frontier Days, is suing Hindi and SHARK over the Matchbox Twenty cancellation and the cancellation by country entertainer Carrie Underwood in 2006.

Budd said the decision on the use of the shock devices was made before the Matchbox Twenty cancellation and Hindi's accusations of animal cruelty became a news item.

"This was done as a result of our work since the last show," he said.

Hindi said it didn't matter to him when the decision was made.

"The animals win ... and Cheyenne Frontier Days wins," Hindi said. "The people of Cheyenne and Wyoming win because it's the wrong thing to do to sit there shocking animals to make them perform."

A service of the Associated Press(AP)