Tucson Tails: Is the rodeo animal cruelty?

by Karyn Zoldan on Feb. 24, 2011


Riding and roping and celebrating the Old West. The rodeo is billed as Americana and family entertainment where thousands of school children are encouraged to attend.

I was looking at the events at the Tucson rodeo. Here’s the schedule and events list.

On the schedule page is a something called mutton bustin’. Okay, I looked it up: Kids wearing helmets and cowboy attire ride sheep. Watch the video.

On the events page is the professional cowboy action like steer wrestling and calf roping.

Wikipedia defines steer wrestling as: The rodeo contestant jumps from his horse onto the head and neck of the running steer. He twists the steer’s head around until the victim falls to the ground. Broken necks are often the result, although many other injuries may also occur even to the cowboy.

Is that family entertainment? Maybe in today’s more violent society.

Another event is calf roping. Those two words strung together already give me a lump in my throat. Calf roping or tie-down roping features a rider mounted on a horse and a calf. The goal is for the rider to catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope from a lariat around its neck, dismount from the horse, run to the calf, and restrain it by tying three legs together, in as short a time as possible. While rodeo promoters say it’s safe, again according to Wikipedia, animal welfare proponents claim calf roping injuries include paralysis from spinal cord injuries, severed tracheas, as well as broken backs, necks, and legs. Tie-down calf roping is not permitted in Rhode Island or in Baltimore.

But it doesn’t stop there.

This SHARK youtube video claims horses were shocked as they left the gate at the 2008 Tucson rodeo.

SHARK (a non-profit organization from Illinois), stands for SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness). Scroll down on the page and watch the video, then leave a comment here as to how you feel about this kind of thing. Do you see it as entertainment or animal cruelty?

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