Outlaw rodeos


With all due respect to Black cowboys and their rightful place in Western history (“Black cowboys reclaim their history in the West,” December 2020), be aware that every animal welfare organization in North America condemns rodeo due to its inherent cruelty. For most of the animals involved, the rodeo arena is merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse.

Most of rodeo is bogus from the git-go, having little to do with either ranching or agriculture. Working ranch hands never routinely wrestled steers, barrel-raced, practiced calf roping or rode bulls or bareback as a timed event. Nor did they put flank straps on the bulls and horses, or work them over in the holding chutes with painful “hotshots,” kicks and slaps. Some “sport!” Indeed, rodeo is not a “sport” at all — it’s a macho exercise in domination.

Famed Black cowboy Bill Pickett created the rodeo’s steer-wrestling event back around the turn of the 20th century. Pickett’s technique was to bite the hapless steer on the nose and lip, so that sheer pain kept the animal on the ground, hence the event’s common name: “bulldogging.”

The United Kingdom outlawed rodeos back in 1934.  Can the U.S. be far behind?

Eric Mills
Oakland, California

Originally published by High Country News: Source