Rodeos can be an environment of stress, fear, and pain for the animals used in a variety of events as part of the rodeo experience.
Sports such as bronco (horse) riding, bull riding, calf roping and steer wrestling all compromise the welfare of the animals involved, for the sake of entertainment.
Rodeo horses and bulls, for example, buck repeatedly as an instinctive reaction to being ridden, kicked with spurs and to the tightened flank strap around their sensitive underbelly. These are prey animals, and they respond in this way out of fear, stress and panic at being attacked.
Calf-roping can cause fear, injury and pain and is effectively banned in Victoria and South Australia. As the young calf runs for their life, they are chased by a rider on a horse and then lassoed. The abrupt stop jerks the calf off their feet, to then crash to the ground, with the rider dismounting to pick the calf up and force them to the ground to tie three of their legs together with rope.
This is a distressing and terrifying experience for the calf, and risks serious injury, including damage to the windpipe from the lasso, bruising and broken ribs from being forced to the ground, and choking if dragged along the ground.
What needs to change
The RSPCA wants to see rodeo sports involving animals to end – no animal should be subjected to pain, stress and potential injury for the sake of human entertainment.
For as long as rodeos continue to exist, we want to see compulsory and enforceable national standards developed, and a registration and licensing system put in place. A qualified vet should always be present during all rodeo events using animals.