By Karen Holzmeister
The Daily Review, InsideBayArea.com
CASTRO VALLEY — The Rowell Ranch Rodeo Association's animal supplier responded Wednesday to a recommended punishment for using a "hot shot" electric prod on balky broncs during the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in May.
The state of California and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association allow electric prods to be used on rodeo animals. The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, or HARD, which operates the Rowell Ranch Rodeo Park, does not.
HARD wants to penalize the rodeo association and animal supplier Flying U Rodeo Co. for violating its rules during the May 17-18 event. The association and Flying U owner Cotton Rosser said they are challenging the decision, based on state and national standards.
"It's the most humane way to move a 2,000-pound bull (out of the chute)," Rosser, of Marysville, said Wednesday. "I've been shocked myself. Kids do it to each other fooling around behind the chutes."
HARD parks Superintendent Larry Lepore has said he wants Flying U banned for one year from all events at the rodeo arena on Dublin Canyon Road, including the Rowell association's May 2009 rodeo.
Lepore based his recommendation on a video of the May 18 competition provided by an animal rights organization, which he said shows horses being shocked out of the chute.
HARD's longtime rodeo policy explicitly states no electric prod or similar device can be used, Lepore said Wednesday.
The yearly contract, signed by the Rowell association to use the rodeo arena, includes a commitment to follow HARD's rules and regulations, Lepore added.
But the rodeo association also has its own guidelines, which it described as "standard operating policy for rodeos" in a letter to HARD on Tuesday.
One of the rules in those guidelines, cited by Rosser in June 9 and 10 letters to the Rowell association, allows the use of prods when animals stall in chutes.
Rosser deflected a question Wednesday about whether he was familiar with HARD's Rowell arena policies, citing only the rodeo association guidelines. Rowell association representatives did not returned repeated phone calls from The Daily Review.
Rosser provided the newspaper with copies of his letters to the association. He said, quoting from the letters, that horses involved in the shocking "were all seasoned horses, worth thousands of dollars. We do not want to injure our horses or the cowboys."
The rodeo association Web site states that electric prods, which release 5,000 to 6,000 volts of electricity, provide "mild shocks" that do not injure rodeo animals.
Lepore said he will talk this week with HARD General Manager Rita Shue about how to proceed.
Rosser has provided the Rowell rodeo with animals for 52 years, and said he hopes to continue doing so. He added that animal rights organizations "are trying to put us out of business."