Rodeo Cruelty

PRCA "Humane Coordinator" Cindy Schonholtz

Cindy Schonholtz holds a position called "Animal Welfare Coordinator" with the PRCA. We aren’t aware of any animal welfare work by Ms. Schonholtz, but she does spend a good deal of time attacking animal protectors and trying to cover for rodeo animal abuse.

Ms. Schonholtz is also the Vice President of the NAIA. Amazingly, the NAIA supports the killing of horses for food “when [the horse] no longer meet the owner's needs”.

In an interview with Las Vegas television station Channel 8 during the PRCA’s 1997 National Finals Rodeo, Ms. Schonholtz stated:

“Without our animals we would not have the sport of rodeo, and the people involved in rodeo do care about their animals. We have over sixty rules and regulations, and they are enforced.”

We have repeatedly asked the PRCA, and Cindy Schonholtz specifically, for the PRCA records for animals injured and killed, as well as for records of humane violators at PRCA rodeos. Our requests were at first denied, and are now simply ignored. Other rodeo associations also keep such information shrouded in secrecy.

SHARK has been given no proof that any member of the PRCA, or any other rodeo association, has ever been disciplined for animal cruelty. There is no question, however, that rodeo animals have been injured and even killed, and that people in the PRCA and other rodeo organizations have tried to cover up the injuries and deaths when they can get away with it, even to the point of masquerading other animals in their place.

Real sports associations are not only willing, but insistent on making such information available to the public. For that matter, a real "Animal Welfare Coordinator" wouldn't be afraid to debate the issue of animal welfare. But the PRCA "Animal Welfare Coordinator Cindy Schonholtz is very, very afraid of debating those who can speak to rodeo animal abuse!

PRCA veterinarian and spokesperson Doug Corey

On December 4, 1997, SHARK president Steve Hindi debated PRCA veterinarian Doug Corey on live television (Station KVBC, Channel 3) during the PRCA’s National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Corey was a last-minute replacement for the PRCA's scheduled debater, Steve Fleming, the PRCA's head of public relations. Apparently some cowpokes at the PRCA thought a veterinarian would have a better chance against Hindi, a veteran rodeo investigator. They were wrong.

After showing videotape of PRCA stock contractor John Barnes shocking bulls in violation of PRCA humane rules, Steve Hindi brought up another PRCA stock contractor, J-Bar-J Rodeo. J-Bar-J was also filmed shocking bulls in violation of PRCA rules. This prompted the following lively and illuminating exchanges between SHARK's president and the PRCA veterinarian:

Hindi: “How much did the PRCA fine J-Bar-J Rodeo?”


Corey: “That is confidential.”


Hindi: “Confidential?”


Corey: “It has been handled by Mr. T.J. Walter, our director of rodeo administration. That is confidential information.”


Hindi: “When Mike Tyson bit Evander Holifield’s ear off, they didn’t say, that’s confidential, what we’re going to do to him. When it happens in basketball, when it happens in baseball or football, whether it’s cocaine abuse, or whether it’s an infraction on the field, they don’t keep it private.”


Corey: “Well, that, you know, Mr. Hindi that’s, all I can tell you right now is, that is, that is your opinion.”


Hindi: “Legitimate sports don’t keep it private.”

After Corey voiced support for the use of electric prods in rodeos, a practice that is publicly condemned by prod manufacturer Hot Shot Corporation:

Hindi: “Do you know anything about stray voltage, Doctor, with bovines?”


(No response from Corey)


Hindi: “Bovines -- cows -- are far more susceptible to the effects of electricity than are humane beings. The stray voltage that a human being won’t even feel, in a barn, can kill a cow. Is that not true doctor? And you're shocking these animals with six to eight thousand volts coming out of these guns? That’s what your literature says.”


Corey: “I’m a veterinarian, I am not an electrician.”


Hindi: “Well then maybe you ought to learn more about it before you go supporting it.”


Hindi, while holding up a shock device: “Do you want to take the shock in front of the camera, doctor?”


(No response from Corey)


Hindi: “I didn’t think you would.”

Dave Brown

Dave Brown is an Illinois representative of Friends of Rodeo, a rodeo apologist/propaganda organization. Brown has never, and will never debate SHARK president Steve Hindi, even though both live in Illinois. That is because Hindi's mission is to video document and expose rodeo abuses. Mr. Brown mission is to protect rodeos, even if it means not telling the truth.

On October 30, 2003 Dave Brown gave false testimony before the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Advisory Board of Livestock Commissioners. During his testimony Mr. Brown stated the following:

"I'd like to read you some numbers from the latest injury survey with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association done it conjunction with the American Veterinary Medical Association."

Mr. Brown then went on to give numbers indicating that rodeo animals are almost never hurt in rodeos. The only problem is, there is no rodeo injury survey done by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in conjunction with American American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Mr. Brown's statement is a fabrication.

SHARK obtained an official transcript of the hearing, including Brown's statement, and sent it to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for comment. Dr. Gail Golab, AVMA Assistant Director, Professional and Public Affairs, sent a letter to Friends of Rodeo pointing out Mr. Brown's inaccuracies, and asked that FOR issue appropriate corrections. Click here to see the AVMA letter to Friends of Rodeo. To our knowledge, Friends of Rodeo has made absolutely no effort to correct Mr. Brown's error.

The only PRCA "rodeo survey" SHARK is aware of grabs statistics out of the air. The PRCA refuses SHARK's repeated requests for hard data to support the "survey" because there is no hard data. As in the case of its "humane rules," the PRCA's "injury survey" exists for public relations purposes only, and the AVMA wants nothing to do with it.

SHARK also sent a copy of the AVMA letter to Friends of Rodeo president Linda Burdick. As expected, Ms. Burdick has not responded.

Read the letter from SHARK investigator, Pat Vinet, to Illinois Friends of Rodeo (FOR) representative, Dave Brown. Like his boss, Linda Burdick, Mr. Brown has not responded. Why won't "Cowboy Dave" be a man and "Cowboy Up?"

June 21, 2004

Dear Mr. Brown:

I am writing to ask if you are aware that Michael Latting and Juaquin Santos pleaded guilty to animal abuse charges stemming from the Morris Rodeo held on 27 September of last year. More importantly, I would like to know if you plan to report this news in the column you write for Friends of Rodeo. In view of the fact that this is the first–ever conviction of its kind in your state, it’s certainly newsworthy.

In a local newspaper article (Suburban Chicago News/”Morris Rodeo Participants Criticized/10/4/2003) Latting is quoted as saying, “I don’t believe in it [hot prodding animals]. …While I’m there, everybody knows not to mess with my animals. I take care of my animals.” This is very commendable of Mr. Latting, but in the same article he says that bulls today have been bred to be docile. “You can’t make an animal buck if you don’t do something to it,” he said.

Perhaps you can answer this question for Mr. Latting: Which is it? Does he or does he not have ethical reservations about hot prodding his animals? Is he indeed opposed to shocking animals and forbids his employees to do it, as he emphatically claims in the first breath? Or does he have no ethical qualms with doing “something to it” as he states in the next?

What intrigues me especially about this case is a statement you made on this very subject in an issue of Friends of Rodeo about a year ago. You said, “Congratulations to John Growney on his win in court against the animal rights people in California. As long as we stick to what we know is right, we should always win these things.” I’m not sure what you are referring to with regard to knowing what’s right, Mr. Brown.

It’s doubtful Michael Latting has any more idea of what’s right than you do. Clearly the law disallows cruelty to animals because it is not right, yet rodeo folks, the self-proclaimed defenders of traditional American values, get caught at it all of the time.

Lies to cover up may vary. When Dave Misner of California recently got caught breaking the law, he said that the prod used to make bulls wild with pain had no batteries in it. When Cotton Rosser gets caught breaking the law, he claims that the electrical device, which is expressly forbidden in the state of California, is disabled and just makes a rattling noise. This is especially interesting considering the animals were zapped on their rumps on the occasion in question. And your friend John Growney who you congratulated for beating the rap, claimed under oath in a court of law that animals who never stalled might have stalled, so breaking the law was okay. I have to add here that Growney’s interpretation of the law he broke deserves credit for creativity!

All kidding aside, Mr. Brown, abusing animals is not right. Breaking the law is not right. Lying about it when you get caught is not right either. I welcome a written clarification from you regarding your statement above about what you know is right.

There is just one final thing I would like to mention. In that same Friends of Rodeo column quoted above, you refer to the protesters at the Wauconda Rodeo as “terrorists.” You label these people “terrorists” because they stand outside rodeos holding signs? Come on, Mr. Brown! A big tough cowboy like you shouldn’t be afraid of a few people holding signs, for crying out loud!


Pat Vinet SHARK

Former PRCA Commissioner Steven Hatchell

In the December 16, 2001 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reporter Jeff Wolf covered ESPN’s airing of rodeos. As the following excerpt of Wolf’s report shows, when it comes to rodeos, ESPN doesn’t even make an attempt at accurate and balanced coverage. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Commissioner Steve Hatchell’s comments shows that the Rodeo Mafia fully uses ESPN’s ethical shortcomings to cover up animal abuse:

The PRCA controls all aspects of what is televised, which allows it to determine what camera angles are used and what is sent through the cables.


You won’t see a calf’s head snap back in calf roping when the cowboy’s rope is taut.


“We’re really sensitive to people who have a problem with calf roping,” Hatchell said, adding that calves rarely sustain serious injuries.


“We just want to showcase (rodeo) in the best light. We want the show to be well presented to an audience broader than just rodeo fans.”

In other words, the PRCA will abuse the animals, but they won’t let you see the abuse. Indeed, ESPN (and other media) broadcasts of rodeos do NOT include calves being jerked down by the neck, steers being flipped and dragged in the steer busting event, or animals injured or killed in rodeos. These all too telling scenes are cut. The same kind of unethical editing occurs in televised bullfights, wherein camera angles and editing eliminate the unspeakable and indefensible gore and cruelty. The slaughter is sanitized for viewers to the point where it bears little resemblance to the horrific reality.

Hatchell’s claim that calves rarely sustain serious injury is highly dubious. First, the PRCA refuses to make records on injuries and deaths public. Second, calves (and other animals) are regularly carried out of the PRCA’s National Finals Rodeo and other PRCA events around the country, and nothing is heard about them again.

Watch how rodeo is broadcast on television. During calf roping you'll notice how the camera cuts away from the calf at the violent, life-threatening moment that the rope suddenly goes tight around the victim’s neck, clothes-lining the young animal and jerking her down. This often causes calves to be knocked out, and it sometimes results in injuries and even death from internal injuries, broken necks, backs and legs. 

Linda Burdick

Does the president of “Friends of Rodeo” know what she is talking about? Linda Burdick is the president of Friends of Rodeo, an organization that defends rodeos and attacks animal protectors. In an interview (October 21, 2003) with Fox 11 television news (Los Angeles, CA), Ms. Burdick made the following statement:

“There are over sixty rules in place with the PRCA, which is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and anyone that inadvertently or purposely breaks a rule has a very serious fine levied against them.”

In response, on January 3, 2004 SHARK sent a letter to Ms. Burdick via fax and E-mail asking her to provide SHARK with the names of PRCA members who have violated PRCA humane rules in the last five years, and what fines have been assessed or disciplinary action taken. The PRCA has steadfastly refused to publicly divulge that information.

Real sports associations demonstrate the integrity of their rules by publicly exposing violators and the disciplinary action taken against them. Rodeo is NOT a sport -- it is an exhibition of animal abuse. Besides being cruel, rodeo is riddled with corruption. Predictably, rodeo associations do not follow the guidelines of legitimate sports associations.

We believe that the PRCA and other rodeo associations do not publicize members who violate "humane rules" because those rules are not enforced. SHARK has documented numerous PRCA stock contractors violating the same humane rules year after year. Rodeo humane rules exist for public relations purposes only.

We will pass on any information provided by Ms. Burdick, but advise that you don’t hold your breath while waiting for her response.

Letter from SHARK to Linda Burdick

Dear Ms. Burdick,

In an October 21, 2003 interview with Fox 11 television news (Los Angeles, CA), you made the following statement:

“There are over sixty rules in place with the PRCA, which is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and anyone that inadvertently or purposely breaks a rule has a very serious fine levied against them.”

SHARK has repeatedly asked the PRCA to provide the names of its members who violate humane rules, and to state what fines have been assessed, or other disciplinary action taken. The PRCA has refused to provide that information.

Now we are inviting you to make good on your claim and provide us with that information. Please name the PRCA members who have been cited for humane violations in the past five years, and state what fines or other disciplinary action has been taken against the violators.

If you do not respond, we will have to assume that your statement is baseless, and that the PRCA’s humane rules exist for public relations purposes only.

Your response, or lack thereof, will be publicized on SHARK’s rodeo website RodeoCruelty.com.


Steve Hindi

Ms. Burdick seems to have no shame when it comes to defending rodeos. In the December 2001 issue of "Friends of Rodeo," Burdick likened animal protectors' whistle-blowing to the 911 attack on the World Trade Center in New York with the following:

The leaders, or “mouths” of anti-rodeo groups operate much like Bin Laden, in that they are individuals who have no proof or evidence to support their allegations against the sport of rodeo...

Although we are used to reading nonsense from rodeo people, this is an especially tasteless diatribe. Over the last decade, SHARK has made extensive use of video and still picture documentation, as is obvious on this website. We identify the stock contractors and often even the contestants involved. Any claim that we have "no proof or evidence" is absurd.

SHARK’s rodeo documentation continues today, in spite of extreme efforts by the Rodeo Mafia to stop us. These efforts include signs prohibiting video cameras, questioning people entering certain rodeos as to whether they have video cameras, illegal personal searches, intimidation by security guards, and even physical attacks, including an attack on an eleven-year-old girl! People with video cameras have been ejected from rodeos on the mere suspicion that they might be documenting animal abuse. Those suspicions by rodeo thugs have usually been wrong. The rodeo people involved in preventing video documentation of animal abuse have included Friends of Rodeo members!

It is telling that Ms. Burdick and her associates at Friends of Rodeo are afraid to debate SHARK. In fact, Friends of Rodeo's written policy strongly advises against debates with the opposition. Ms. Burdick and her associates have no choice but to hide from the truth because they are trying to defend animal abuse. Hiding sounds like a tactic of Mr. Bin Laden and other terrorists to us. Indeed, rodeos are based on terrorizing animals. SHARK finds those who abuse animals, lie about it, and then hide from animal protectors to be cowardly and distinctly un-American.

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