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Did You Know....

Animals used and abused by the rodeo frequently end their lives not as "sports heroes" but at the slaughterhouse?

Despite being riddled with the animal cruelties detailed below, the rodeo is frequently regarded as a traditional sport and is the official state sport of Wyoming, South Dakota, and Texas. Yet as a culture we have moved beyond many other injustices that were once regarded as "tradition", and now the time has come to raise awareness about and put an end to rodeo cruelty.


While the fear of the animals may seem “entertaining” to the audience and make the cowboys appear more impressive, it is just that--fear. The animals experience panic, fear of pain, and high levels of anxiety prior to their "performances." Rodeos intentionally cause these reactions in the animals to rile the crowd and make the the event more "entertaining". The tools used to incite the animals include the “hotshot,” an electric prod used to cause intense pain which scares the animal into displaying abnormally dramatic reactions, and metal spurs and “bucking straps” that burn the animal’s abdomen and groin area and cause him to “buck”, which can lead to back and leg injuries.

Rodeo events are animal abuse.


  • Calf Roping: This event makes use of 3-4 month old calves who are tormented

and shocked while in the "shute" or holding pen. When released, the calf

frantically tries to escape torture by running out into the ring. A mounted rider

then lassoes the calf, yanking the baby into the air by his neck, slamming him

into the ground, and finally proceeds to tie his legs together thus immobilizing

the animal. During this event, calves may cry out (if they can breathe), defecate

from fear and stress, suffer neck and back injuries, may become paralyzed,

suffer from internal hemorrhaging, have their tracheas severed, or die.


  • Steer Busting (aka steer tripping): A rider ropes a provoked steer with such force that the animal flips in the air. The injury and death rate is so high the Nevada State Veterinarian forbids it from the National Finals Rodeo, but this is easily bypassed by holding the event in other locations. During this event, steers have their heads and necks violently jerked and twisted, frequently causing neck and back injuries, fractured horns, hip sores and death.


  • Steer Wrestling: The contestant, mounted on a horse, chases a steer out of the holding chute. He grabs the steer’s horns while dismounting, twists the animal’s neck, and slams him to the ground. During this event, the animals can suffer broken bones and necks, torn ligaments, severed spinal cords and trachaes, suffer from internal bleeding, or die. 


  • Bull Riding and Saddle Bronc Riding: The “flank” is the area of the animal’s body behind his rib cage. An adjustable belt called a “bucking strap” or “flank strap” is placed around the horse’s flank. The contestant tightens the belt, which pinches the animal’s groin and genitals, causing him to buck from the pain. The contestant also spurs the horse. During this event, ANIMALS ARE TORTURED WHILE RIDERS TRY TO HANG ON AS THE ANIMALS BUCK IN ANGUISH.

Rodeos are constant trauma for the animals forced to participate. They suffer broken ribs, backs, and legs, torn tails, punctured lungs, internal organ damage, ripped tendons, torn ligaments, snapped necks, and suffer agonizing deaths. It is an inescapable fact that the rodeo, that torments animals for amusement thrives on blatant animal abuse.


This abuse begins even prior to their arrival in the ring. The animals doomed to participate are transported in overcrowded trucks and trailers, and they may be confined for as long as 24 hours without being properly fed or watered, according to the “rules” of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Ropers are allowed to cripple as many as 3-4 animals a day while practicing for their “performance.”


After being tortured, almost all rodeo animals end up at the slaughterhouse.


Despite increased publicity about animal cruelty, the PRCA has not has not improved animal safety. The penalties for violating regulations are not severe enough to deter abuse and are miniscule in comparison with the large rodeo cash prizes at stake. 


Ready to take the next step to help animals suffering in the rodeo? Visit to get involved!

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