We’re Goin’ to the Rodeo Y’All – Protest of the Ram Rodeo Tour

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When it comes to the abuse of animals in entertainment, rodeos rank among the top culprits. While it’s very typical to see many rodeos in Alberta,  there aren’t so many appearing in Ontario,  until the Dodge Ram brand brought it to Newmarket Ontario.  At this event ticket holders can expect to see saddle bronc,  bareback,  bull riding,  steer wrestling, tie down,  and team roping.  Today,  we’re in horse country in York Region Ontario,  home to over 1500 horse farms and more than 20,000 horses,  and during three shifts on Saturday and Sunday – thousands of people,  including horse owners,  will see our signs.

Many Canadian rodeo aficionados cite tradition,  culture and athleticism as justification for events such as steer-riding, chuck wagon racing,  and calf-roping.  In the face of increased public critique,  animal welfare groups are helping to shed light on the cruelty of these events. Canada’s animal cruelty legislation is a disagrace – the laws have not been substantially changed since 1892.  Grassroots movements of Canadians say things need to change. There have already been at least 25 walks across the country and around the world, trying to bring awareness to Canada’s horrible animal cruelty legislation.

Animal welfare groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), also object to rodeos. The ASPCA calls them “a cruel form of entertainment that involves the painful, stressful and potentially harmful treatment of livestock.”  The Vancouver Humane Society was instrumental in bringing international focus to the issue of rodeos in Canada,  via the League Against Cruel Sports.  This is a first step toward internationalising opposition to rodeos in Canada and making it  harder for rodeos to justify their use of animals as “entertainment.”

“Sometimes tradition and habit are just that, comfortable excuses to leave things be, even when they are unjust and unworthy. Sometimes–not often, but sometimes–the cranks and radicals turn out to be right.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

Tradition and heritage are two very emotional words,  heavy with meaning.  Yet,  despite those historical connections,  the Catalonians have banned bullfighting,  which was intensely tied to their nationhood and heritage.  The British have outlawed foxhunting.  The scarlet coated riders are now gone,  even though few things were more “British” than stately homes,  country weekends,  and The Hunt.  I wonder, with regard to Canadian tradition,  how many settlers had to ride or wrestle steers and race chuckwagons at breakneck speeds across the prairie?  I don’t believe that calf roping has ever been a sport but it was made so for entertainment and prize-money, as was bull-riding. Think about it: why would anyone ride a bull? It was created for entertainment and was not something based on culture or tradition.  But despite the fact that their own country outlawed rodeos many years ago,  royal couple Will and Kate visited the Calgary Stampede.  These events are not sports,  but an entertainment spectacle and part of that spectacle are the accidents that inevitably result.  Horse tripping relies on the horse to fall down as part of the spectacle.  Rodeos are a brutish business.

“The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it” Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

There are many cultural traditions that are not morally acceptable. Think shark finning, whaling and bear bile farming.  If many of these cruel practices against animals were promoted as a brand new form of entertainment,  virtually every animal lover would demand that the practice cease.  Imagine if “horse tripping” were not tied to tradition and parlayed about as a Mexican cultural practice?  The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), which sanctions about 600 rodeos each year in the United States and Canada, does not even allow horse-tripping,  which is exactly as stupid and dangerous as it sounds.  I sent a message to the account holder of the above video (Randy Janssen – read more about him here).  He sent me a reply, but still didn’t post my statement – coward!   This means that he cannot rebut even the most reasonable arguments against the practice.

“If you have proof of animals being injured in Charreada, send it to me and I will post it. Proof is not unsubstantiated ranting from someone who has never been in a lienzo. It is pictures or videos of injuries in the lienzo. You can see live Charreada on Spanish TV or the decharros (dot) com. You can also see videos of complete Charreada if you google livestreamdecharros. I want you to watch it so you will see that Charros and Charras are good people who would never intentionally hurt animals.Please watch this video.” Looks like I can’t provide any proof unless I’ve been in a “lienzo,”  whatever that is.  Oh,  and he tells you right upfront on the video that he doesn’t allow postings from “animal rights activists,”  and of course ratings are disabled too.  If these people think their “sport” is so harmless,  why don’t they have the courage to allow the general viewership of YouTube to comment and vote on some of these practices?

This truck tried to side-swipe us with the stock trailer

Come at me ‘bro.  This truck tried to side-swipe us with the stock trailer while we stood on Davis Drive.  Stock trailer wheels nearly ran over our feet,  and this was no accident!

Many rodeo participants are sincere when they say that they love their animals.  Recall the chuckwagon driver Chad Harden of the Calgary Stampede, who cried when his horses died in a terrible wreck this year.   But what does the word “love” mean if we are willing to profit from and place in injurious situations those we “love?” Rodeo animals are sent to slaughter, not to retirement and pasture, when they cease to perform at a profit.   Whilst it is a sad fact that many animals sustain severe if not fatal injuries when used for entertainment in rodeos, it is perhaps sadder that one can almost guarantee each and every one of them has felt fear and confusion.

“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”
Ellen DeGeneres

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom”
Helen Thompson

“When I hear somebody talk about a horse or cow being stupid; I figure it’s a sure sign that the animal has somehow outfoxed them”
Tom Dorrance, True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse & Human

“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.”
George Bernard Shaw

“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
Woodrow Wilson

“What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.”
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

“There’s nothing more embarrassing than to have earned the disfavor of a perceptive animal.”
Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

About Heather Clemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

9 responses »

  1. Charro Randy is a piece of work, isn’t he? I don’t know why these self professed animal lovers can’t engage in activities that celebrate the animals and show them at their best rather than all this public torture and abuse. If you watch some of the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo youtube videos, you can hear them all hoot and holler every time a horse is tripped. Disgusting…

    • Horse-tripping is a spectacle that shouldn`t exist anywhere. It has about as much appeal as watching schoolyard bullies beat up a smaller kid and steal his lunch money. But yep, he takes a gold in the Douchebag Olympics. Times a million. The only way this rodeo was able to come to town was because the organizer moved it beyond city limits. Animal shows like this and circuses aren`t allowed in the towns near where I live. I think the establishment, under previous owners, turned down the rodeo in the past. I`m writing to the venue, and quoting them a copy of the police report I made when the driver depicted in the blog tried to drive a stock trailer over our feet. And another protester had a drink thrown on him by a passing truck. Rodeos bring out the worst crowd of people, and that myth about Canadian politeness vanishes.

  2. If you are going to use pictures, you should make sure they are from the rodeo association you are protesting. most of the pictures are from MEXICAN or SPANISH rodeos.

    The men I know involved in rodeo care for their animals greatly, and the bucking stock are taking care of well (they are an investment! Have you seen the prices these animals sell for? They are not cheap) These animals work 8 seconds a few times a week at max. There are limits to how much they can be used. Im sorry but I dont blame the guy for trying to hit you idiots

    • Rodeos do have something in common don’t they? They abuse animals. I don’t have pictures of the Ram Rodeo event because I wouldn’t pay good money to attend it. I hope you’ve never shared any pics from any events you have never personally attended. In any case, my blog post clearly discusses Mexican rodeo practices, so it’s hardly a bait ‘n’ switch of the photos. Most of the RAM rodeo pics are copyrighted by Norm Betts, the official photographer, and I don’t use copyrighted pics in my blogs. Are we there yet?

      Don’t you have any salient comments about the calf-roping? You know it looks the same between the RAM photos and photos taken at Cheyenne or anywhere else. You’re conspicuously silent on that. And “that guy” has already had a visit from the cops; to state that you side with someone who would deliberately try to sideswipe people protesting democratically on public property says a lot more about you than it does us. Also, I’m sure the RAM Rodeo organizers would love to know that their fans are hating on protesters to the extent that they advocate running them over on public thoroughfares. And that’s………….why we protest.

    • It doesn’t matter how much money you pay for an animal, abuse is abuse. If I value an animal I wouldn’t expose it to potential injury or death and I certainly would not send it to slaughter when it stops “entertaining”.

    • They are mostly centred around Calgary this year, especially since they rushed to have the Stampede after the flood and already two animals have died. One an outrider for the chuckwagon races and a steer had its neck broken.

  3. Its ignorant people like you that are ruining all the great things in this world ya know?! Rodeos abuse and kill animals, are you freaking kidding me?? I come from the Linderman’s in Montana, so my family has been winning championships since before there was any organized associations in rodeo and I’ve been around it all my life as well. I can honestly say that of ALL the contractors I’ve seen in my days I’ve not seen one of them treat an animal poorly ever! That’s they’re income, if they injure the animals then guess what, they’re not making money with them?!?! That’s why I can honestly say that all you “anti rodeo” types are just plain ignorant, genuine jackasses really!! Because that’s common sense to normal people!! Some of these animals are worth millions of dollars and even the $100 ones are taken care of by the contractors like they were their own child! They have to be, otherwise it would be just like taking all your money and throwing it in the fire to waste!!! Yes there will be accidents at rodeos for sure, but there’s just as many accidents that happen to animals turned out to pasture too?!! From broken legs to hung up in a fence or even attacks from other animals too. Point is, these animals are athletes and are taken care just like the billion dollar quarterback. Some are even better off than a lot of people in this world to be honest?! So before you go cursing the entire rodeo world and cowboy way of life because you found a few videos of horrible accidents at rodeos, maybe you all should think about the other 99% of animals that buck or run their entire career without a single hitch and are retired out to pasture to graze and roam until they pass from old age eventually???!!! Quit trying to bury decades of tradition and livelihood and pride 6 ft under, because if it wasn’t for cowboys, ranchers, and farmers there’s a lot of you cowards that wouldn’t be here today because you’re to weak hearted to grit things out and get them done. Thank you, LONG LIVE COWBOYS & GOD BLESS!!!

    • So I’m ruining rodeo for everyone? But it sounds like it doesn’t stop there, I’m like, ruining EVERYTHING? Dude, You’re wasting your time trying to pitch the ethics of rodeo here. I will be protesting this event again, along with others for all the aforementioned reasons, but I have this response for you, since you’re so convinced of the kindly, empathetic nature of the rodeo contractors – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmxTYtRnjpg

      BTW, these contractors were suspended from working with the Reno Rodeo, but I’m sure they’ll find other employment elsewhere, or perhaps even return after the brouhaha blows over.

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