Monday, January 9, 2012

Why I don't go to the rodeo

I'm sure the title of this post will not surprise you. As long as my memory is, I never remember thinking that a rodeo was someplace I would go or something I would support. My main reason in not supporting any rodeo (except a human rodeo and I'll get to that) is because of the inherent issue of animal cruelty.

For the life of me I cannot imagine how anyone would think calf roping is not cruel. A terrified calf running for what she may think is her life, being roped and thrown to the ground.

I know, I've heard it many times since moving to the west: "it's our culture". A culture I want nothing to do with.

The National Western Stock Show opened last weekend in Denver. It has been around for over 100 years I think. Tens of thousands will go pet goats and buy cowboy hats and then watch a rodeo. It's entertaining. It's fun. Not for the animals involved. It's always a period of time where I try to not watch local TV as much so I can skip the commercials and the local news stations "sponsorships" of the event. Most reporters in the area trip over each other to make the point that THEY are the biggest fan of the stock show.

As one who tries to look at the good in everything I see, I do see some positive parts of this. People get to meet their meat. They get to look in the eyes of another sentient being, a being that does not want to be tortured, terrorized, or killed. A being that will in most cases feel relief the day they are finally killed and the hell they have experienced will be over. I also think that perhaps a majority of folks who have booths at the stock show or finance the stock show are against the horrors of factory farming. We all have more in common than not.

I also have a tough time with the Stock Show because I don't think it's a very friendly place for a married gay couple. I know many of the folks who support the stock show also support anti-gay politicians, and when driving in cattle country during election season one sees a lot of signs for very anti-gay candidates. But who knows, maybe even folks at the stock show are coming around.

Another possible positive thing for folks attending, if they love animals, which most people do, they will get to see that animals used in a rodeo are not having fun. They are simply product used to create an entertainment form that I hope one day will be history. A true entertaining rodeo would be with humans only, some type of physical-testing weekend of events. How many guys can a guy carry across an arena? How about a muscled cowboy trying to rope another guy? I have seen those couples sporting events where the man carries his wife/girlfriend through a series of sports challenges. That is a great form of entertainment. And just like Cirque du Soleil has reaped crazy profits from a circus without animals, I'm sure one day someone will reap crazy profits from a rodeo without animals.

Thanks for reading.


  1. I hear you. Years ago, I lived in Bolivia and my little town had a rodeo that was so flipping depressing. The lack of respect for those beautiful creatures made me miserable during rodeo week. I feel your pain. (And the animals' pain.)

    Hang in there... You're making a huge difference just by posting this. :)

  2. I couldn't agree with you more! I also feel the same about circuses. Animals need to be revered, not be paraded around like a side show before being abused and slaughtered.

  3. Absolutely agree. I'm from Ireland and dream of driving route 66 someday but recently there was a show on tv about Scottish comedian Billy Connolly who did that on a hog motorbike. I was so disappointed that instead of perhaps going and standing on 'that' corner in Winslow Arizona he bypassed that and instead spent much of one episode at a rodeo (can't remember where as I was so disgusted at what constitutes fun in cowboy country). Just because something is a tradition or the culture doesn't make it right as history shows. Maybe someday humans will wake up to what hell they put the creatures we share our planet with.

  4. another fabulous post,Dan. Thank you.

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