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Animal Abuse is not contained to companion pets such as dogs and cats. Rodeos routinely abuse horses, calves, steers, goats and bulls in order to make them perform for the benefit of the clock and paycheck...
What do you see when you look at this picture?
A rodeo scene? A man? A ‘piggin’ string for tying clenched in the man’s teeth? A calf at least three feet off the ground bellowing in fear?
Not very long ago, what I would have seen looking at this picture is a hunk of a rodeo cowboy in pressed jeans, and I would have been hoping he got a good low-time score for this event.
Then I saw this picture:
and I had what the dictionary defines as: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Looking at that picture, I had an epiphany.
If you’re not familiar with rodeo, this is called calf-roping.
Three- to four-month old calves are forced into a metal-cage chute facing the open arena. Alongside that chute is an area where the roper and his horse wait for the calf to be released. Across this area is a rope barrier that cannot be crossed by the horse until the calf is a certain distance away. If the horse breaks that barrier too soon, it’s a ten-second penalty. When the calf is released, it is at a full run (for reasons I’ll name later). The cowboy and horse pursue it at a full gallop. The cowboy throws his lasso around the calf’s neck, the horse basically ‘applies its brakes’, dropping its hind end close to the ground and stopping with its rear legs while the cowboy pulls the slack out of the rope. The calf is jerked backward (the force lifts the calf off the ground at first before it slams down, thanks to gravity. Note the spinal contortion, also how nasal mucus—snot—is forced from the nostrils by the sudden stop). Sometimes the calves get up. However, it is part of the rules that it has to be the cowboy that drops it to the ground, so whether or not the calf does get up, the cowboy has to lift it, drop it (3+/- feet), then tie three of its legs together (two hind and a front). The calf has to stay tied for six seconds after the cowboy gets back on his horse in order to get a good score. How long does this take from start (release at chute) to successful tie? Depends on the arena. Anywhere from 4-6 seconds. 4 seconds. From a standstill run out of a chute to the tie.
Now, put yourself in the calf’s position. Think about running as fast as you can to get away from an attacker. Think about that attacker gaining on you, throwing something around your neck and jerking you off your feet. Remember, you’re at a full run. Not pretty to think about the pain, agony and injury that such force will sustain. Consider the fact the attacker is more than 4 times your weight. Consider the fact that he doesn’t care if you’re injured, he’s going to lift you up off the ground and slam you back down, and he’s going to tie you up anyway. Which is what rodeo cowboys do. They do not take into consideration the animal may be injured when they tie it and walk away. They are only concerned about the clock, the paycheck, and accolades. If they were truly concerned for the animals’ welfare, there would be no rodeo.
Rodeo is not a traditional upkeep of the Old West ranching. Real cowboys and cattlemen would not treat their animals as the rodeo does. And I’m not speaking only of the two-bit, little county fair rodeos. The pictures included here are from the pro-cowboy association sanctioned events. Whether it be the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming; the Pendleton, in Oregon; the national finals in Las Vegas, the competition is the same. Only the animals are changed out. Mostly due to serious injury and/or death.
These calves are shocked and poked and pulled and kicked in order to get them into the small chutes from which they are, for all intents and purposes, launched. Their sensitive tails are pulled and scraped along the metal rungs of the chute, causing severe irritation. Electric shock (5,000 volts+) is often times used in conjunction with the chute opening to send the calf running for its life.
And, incredibly, calf-roping is not the most cruel event.
That belongs, hands-down, to steer busting/steer tripping, and other names the pro-cowboy association keeps trying to come up with to alleviate the abusive language of an abusive event.
This event ends up with a three-legged tie as well, but the major difference is after the rope is thrown over the head, the cowboy swings the rope to the right of the steer and turns his horse to the left, thereby 'tripping' the steer and dragging it until the horse finally stops. This is so injurious to young horned steers, the state veterinarian of Nevada forbids its inclusion in the national finals event . That torture takes place in another state before the Las Vegas sanctioned abuse debacle. In the team steer roping event, two riders chase down a steer; one ropes the horns and yanks the steer in one direction while the second rider ropes the legs and they pull the animal from both ends. Again, think of yourself being forcibly yanked in two directions at once.
Why is the rodeo still popular if it’s abusive? Primarily, perpetuation of a simple mindset: greed for major corporate funding which often doesn’t care where its advertising dollars go, as long as it’s out there somewhere in public view. One of the pro-cowboy association's major sponsors is the United States Army. The Army spends millions of dollars each year on rodeo events, while communities around our great country have to hold fundraisers to send some basic human necessities (and not-so-basic such as bullet proof vests) to our fighting service men and women overseas. The Army spends millions trying to recruit from a gene-pool that abuses animals outright under the guise of a ‘traditional sport’. The allegedly traditional “Great American Sport”.
This is not a sport. It is the Great American Shame. The rodeo calls the animals competitors. They are prisoners, forced to perform, with pain and torture the motivator.
The pro-cowboys claim to have a 60-item rule book enforcing humane treatment. And they do. But, they do not enforce it. There is a rule specifically against shock devices. Rules allows for their use on a very restrictive basis. Period. It is forbidden at the bucking chutes. And it is forbidden to be use on horses. Even the manufacturer of these wicked devices state: Do not use on horses. But, in full view of the rodeo judges, and those gathered around chutes, it is used indiscriminately. On bulls, steers, calves, and yes, horses. And not just in the hind quarters. On the neck and face, as well.
Why don’t you see this happening when you watch rodeo? A- you’re there to watch the animals as they come out of the chutes, so you follow their progress. B- the chutes are so far away from spectator scrutiny, the distance hinders the naked eye. C- television coverage edits it out.
But these abuses have been caught on video, documented, and are available for anyone’s scrutiny and interpretation on YouTube (search: SHARKonline).
SHARK is an acronym of SHowing Animals Respect And Kindness. They are the purveyors of my epiphany. The photos in this piece come from their website www.sharkonline.org . Founder Steve Hindi once had an epiphany as well, after which he created SHARK back in the 90s. This is a non-violent animal abuse awareness organization that has repeatedly asked for open debates with the rodeo association so they could justify the videoed abuses. Instead, the association continues to attempt to stop SHARK volunteers from bringing any recordable apparatus into arenas, and have even turned a blind eye when rodeo competitors assault recording volunteers.
And I would not have researched any of this to be absolutely certain of my own convictions, had I not seen one photograph (of something which I’ve seen hundreds of times in my 50+ years) and really LOOKED at and REALIZED what I was seeing.
What do I see now, looking this picture?
A little calf in the hands of a monster.
Who said only the good guys wear white hats?
This is not human blood staining this chute.