The Cruelty Behind Rodeos!!

Rodeos have been receiving some unwanted attention recently by numerous welfare groups including Animals Australia. So I thought I would post some information on the ‘sport’ and would love to hear everyone’s opinions on whether it should be banned nationally?

Rodeos are currently banned in Britain and in parts of Europe, the United States and Australia due to the pain and distress they cause to the competing animals.

A variety of competitive ‘sports’ are involved in a rodeo including bull and horse riding, calf/steer roping and steer wrestling. All of which can cause serious injury to the animal.

Many people in favour of rodeos claim that if the animal doesn’t want to buck then why would they do it? However, for cattle, and horses to a lesser extent, to perform they are often ‘encouraged’ with an electric prod, to which they are extremely sensitive to. Flank straps are also used to assist with the bucking. They are generally tightened before the animal and rider enter the ring, and to be honest, generally don’t cause extreme discomfort or harm to the animal. Many are actually lined to prevent any sort of injury, but they will cause the animal to buck unnaturally. If over-tightened to increase the animal’s performance, however, they can cause harm. Spurs are also often used on horses to initiate bucking, which if used incorrectly can cause great injury to the animal. Even the most docile horse will buck if spurred incorrectly. Numerous injuries are obtained from the bucking motion.  

‘A day at the Mareeba rodeo’ licensed under Creative Commons

Roping causes injury due to the force of lassoing and jerking the animal to a halt. It is then thrown and wrestled to the ground which can lead to tearing or stretching of ligaments, internal haemorrhaging to the thymus gland and trachea, disc rupture, broken legs and the list goes on.

The sport of steer roping, licensed under Wikimedia Commons


Steer wrestling involves the contestant jumping off the horse to grab the steer by the horns and twisting its neck in an attempt to wrestle it to the ground. The animal can receive splintered horns broken limbs and in some cases spinal injury.   

Dr. C. G. Haber, a veterinarian with 30 years experience assessing meat for the United States Department of Agriculture states ‘when rodeo animals are sent to the packing houses I have seen cattle so extensively bruised that the only areas in which the skin was attached was the head, neck, legs and belly. I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine that at times puncture the lungs. I have seen as much as two to three gallons of free blood accumulated under detached skin.’

Now I’m not saying all rodeos are like this and every animal receives serious injury, however injuries are often and can’t be prevented even in the most organised and welfare aware rodeo.

Further Reading:

Larson, P.W. Rodeo Is A Cruel Sport

Animals Australia

ABC article: No Bull? The Great Rodeo Debate

5 Responses to “The Cruelty Behind Rodeos!!”

  1. powell says:

    Glad to hear your opinions and support to stop these forms of supposed entertainment.

    I do believe that increased education coincides with increased respect and improved treatment of animals. Thus, less developed countries which don’t necessarily have an education system comparable to that in Australia don’t always have the welfare standards that we do.

  2. Callum says:

    Seems to me that sports like these are an anachronism from the wild, desperate days of early America and colonial Australia, when brutality like this and worse was visited on man and beast alike, life was short and cheap. You can still see similar practices in the less developed parts of the world, but it has no place in a land where we can live better, and have a choice about how we treat our animals.
    That said, I distinctly remember watching a reality TV show on Aussie outback stations where the farm hands had to (lightly) shunt a violent old bull with their paddock bombs in order to capture him.

  3. Rachael Hillier says:

    Great post Candice!

    Definitely makes you think twice as to what is “sport” and what is essentually just “cruelty” to animals. Another sport which I don’t support is the steeplechase as many horses in this disgusting sport break legs, necks etc and end up being shot as a result of human cruelty simply for entertainment purposes. We should definitely review sports which involve animals and justify whether the risks towards the animals really do outweigh the “entertainment”.

  4. powell says:

    I agree with you 100%, rodeos can’t be tradition as the stock are extremely valuable and the farmer wouldn’t risk the chance of injury or increased stress levels that could potentially reduce the quality and therefore price of the carcass and/or require the replacement of a breeding or working animal.

    In a positive light, I have actually spoken to a few individuals who have grown up on the rodeo scene and always thought it to be the norm. However after they became aware of the torment many animals go through purely for entertainment they no longer attend or support rodeos. I think many people are aware that it can’t be the kindest sport to an animal, but unfortunately they are unaware of just how callous it can be. So increasing awareness through the various campaigns by animal welfare groups/organisations will hopefully lead to a ban.

  5. Helen says:

    Great Blog! I think you’ve highlighted a really important issue and one that is not always easy to argue either way, like many animal welfare debates.

    One of the things that doesn’t seem to add up to me about rodeos, especially in America, is that they claim it is tradition and it is what is done on farms/ranches. And yet and I don’t think i’ve ever heard of a single farmer that would risk the health and therefore the value of their stock (bulls, steers, horses etc.)purely for entertainment. Because, as you mentioned, the animals often recieve extensive bruising, if not worse injuries, which can have a detrimental effect on the price of their carcass after slaughter.

    There is also evidence in the literature to suggest that high levels of stress (psychological or physical) can affect the pH in the tissues and also have detrimental effects on meat quality. Which would again put downward pressure on the value of the carcass.

    This is all a very scientific way to look at this issue but i guess this is how these sorts of things need to be argued in order to get a positive outcome. Personally, I’ve always thought that Rodeos promote horrendous cruelty and result in extreme physical and psychological distress in the animals, both of which should be taken as equally important. And all this for what purpose?? Surely people can find better way to entertain themselves??