Rodeos continue to garner support across the nation from their long-standing tradition in the United States. Oregon, for example, hosts the Pendleton Round Up, an annual rodeo, which is now over 100 years old. However, rodeos and rodeo events seem cruel by the current standards of animal treatment.
Bull riding, for example, relies on the animal being aggravated in order to make the competition harder for the rider. No one would be interested in watching someone ride around on a calm bull.
If audience members were to watch the bull pen, where the bull is kept before each event, they would see the handlers provoking the animals to make them more aggressive before entering the arena.
Another problematic event at rodeos is calf roping. An event where contestants try to catch a calf using rope while riding on a horse. This event can result in the death of the calf if the contestant pulls on the rope too hard and breaks the animal’s neck.
Horses also face health problems from these events and many develop back problems from the strain of trying to buck off riders.
Rodeo supporters claim that rodeos are beneficial to children who live in cities and who are unlikely to see the animals elsewhere.
The idea being that rodeos can inspire youth to get involved in a more diverse range of interests, rather than being limited to what they see in their everyday surroundings.
While there is value in expanding a child’s view of the world, rodeos may not be the best place to do it. In fact, it may have the opposite effect, if the child’s only first-person experience with those animals is watching them in a highly aggressive environment.
Fairs, for example, offer the same type of exposure to these animals in a more calm and more realistic atmosphere. This way, people get exposure to animals they don’t get to see every day, but in a manner that does not over emphasize the potential aggression the animal may exhibit in a highly stressful environment.
It may not be the intention of rodeo participants to injure animals, but the fact is that rodeo events often result in the harm, distress and even death of the animals involved.
There are other ways for people to get the educational benefits from rodeos, without the animal mistreatment that often goes along with them.