365 Days in Horse Country – Rodeos
One of the most loved spectator sports in the horse world is the rodeo. The event started in the 1800s in the Western United States, where cowboys (and cowgirls) worked day in and day out handling cattle. Rodeos were a way for these folks to show off their skills and their horses. By the 1900s, this casual event grew into a professional sport.
Today, rodeos feature a variety of classes. Gymkhana classes are a tradition at rodeos, and they feature pole bending and barrel racing. Calf roping in another favourite, but the biggest spectator draws come from the bull and bronco riding events, where cowboys try to stay on “wild” bulls and horses who are, in reality, trained bucking animals.
Some rodeo events are so popular with spectators that they take place over several days and draw tens of thousands of onlookers.
Rodeos are considered a tradition, although some animal rights groups have, rightfully so, protested parts of the rodeo competitions that involve the rough treatment of animals. Specifically, they object to calf roping because it is hard on the young cattle. They also object to the bucking events because of the way the animals are induced to buck. Although the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association limits use of electric prods, these devices are often used on animals before they are turned loose from the bucking chute. Ultimately, it is important to let your conscience be you guy and to support only those events that do not place the animals in harm’s way or that subjects them to cruelty and inhumane handling.