Where do you go if you want to see bullies, cowboys with self-esteem issues, and dudes with insecurities about their masculinity all in one place? Why, you go to the rodeo, of course!


Rodeos began in the 1800s as a skill contest among cowboys but have now become an industry motivated by greed and profits. Participants are praised for their courageous conquering of “wild” animals, when in reality, rodeos are nothing more than cruel displays of human dominance over young and baby animals.

Rodeos are cruel

Most animals used in rodeos aren’t aggressive at all. Instead, they’re provoked into displaying wild or crazed behavior in order to make cowboys look strong and brave. Electric prods, spurs, and bucking straps are used to anger or irritate the animals who are forced into rodeos. The bucking strap is a tightly cinched strap or rope that is wrapped around the abdomens of horses and bulls. This is what causes them to buck—they’re trying to rid themselves of the torment. This strap can cause open wounds and burns when the hair is rubbed off, and the skin can even be chafed raw. Animal control officers have even found burrs and other irritants placed under bucking straps.

Bucking straps

Cows and horses are often jabbed with electrical prods while in the chute in order to irritate them—this causes these defenseless animals intense pain. Although rodeo cowboys voluntarily risk injury by participating in events, the animals they use have no such choice. Because speed is a factor in many rodeo events, the risk of accidents is high. Calves in the calf-roping event routinely have their necks snapped back by the lasso, often resulting in neck injuries. Even Bud Kerby, owner and operator of Bar T Rodeo, Inc., agrees that calf roping is inhumane. He told the St. George, Utah, Spectrum that he “wouldn’t mind seeing calf roping phased out.” During Rodeo Houston, a bull suffered from a broken neck for a full 15 minutes before he was euthanized following a steer-wrestling competition.

Calfs roped

If a rodeo comes to your town, protest to local authorities, write letters to companies that are sponsors, leaflet at the gate, and/or hold a demonstration. Contact peta2 for posters, fliers and tips on how to set up your demo!

Check state and local laws to find out which types of activities involving animals are and are not legal in your area. For example, after a spectator videotaped that a bull broke his leg during a rodeo event, Pittsburgh passed a law prohibiting bucking straps, electric prods, and sharpened or fixed spurs, which in effect banned rodeos altogether since most use the flank straps that are against the law.

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