From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Main article: Rodeo

Rodeo events include the following forms of competition:

Timed events


Roping encompasses a number of timed events that are based on the real-life tasks of a working cowboy, who often had to capture calves and adult cattle for branding, medical treatment and other purposes. A lasso or lariat is thrown over the head of a calf or the horns of adult cattle, and the animal is secured in a fashion dictated by its size and age.

"Rough Stock" competition

In spite of popular myth, most modern "broncs" are not in fact wild horses, but are more commonly spoiled riding horses or horses bred specifically as bucking stock, many of whom were rescued from a fate as horsemeat. Most rodeo broncs enjoy good food, regular veterinary care and get to work, at most, 10 seconds a day.

Other horse sports

Criticism of horses in sport

Most horse owners are interested in the well being and welfare of horses. Some are allied with various animal welfare organizations that try to end genuine abuse of horses. Almost all competitive events have well-established rules and regulations to prevent abuse of animals and to encourage ethical behavior. Most high-intensity sports like show jumping, endurance riding, eventing, rodeo, and horse racing are closely monitored by veterinarians to prevent and treat injuries. On the other hand, there are genuine abuses of horses that do occur. Some people, often motivated by profit or a desire to win at all costs, may inflict pain, overwork, injure, neglect, starve, or drug horses in ways that harm the animal's physical health and mental well-being.

Organized groups dedicated to protecting all animals, such as the Humane Society of the United States, and animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, target some horse sports with claims of animal cruelty. Horse racing and rodeo are most commonly targeted both because of their visibility to the non-horse-oriented public and because these are sports where it is sometimes difficult for people who do not know much about horses to differentiate between pushing equines to perform to their peak and actual abuse.

One problem is a disagreement about terms like abuse. While some individuals consider even fairly drastic discipline of horses as non-abusive, others consider abuse to be anything done against the will of the animal in question. Some people consider poor living conditions abusive, others think riding itself is abusive. There is not a consensus on the issue.

Further, the perspective of the individuals holding various viewpoints is sometimes quite different. For example, horse professionals claim they know better what is best for horses than people who live horseless lives, easily influenced by propaganda. On the other hand, other individuals claim that many horse professionals are biased because of motivation for personal gain.

However, many people take a middle ground, primarily concerned that certain sports or training techniques may unnecessarily cause pain or injuries to horse athletes, just as they do for human athletes. Some people who advocate use of horses in equestrian activities point out that horses in the wild have a shorter average life expectancy and are injured more often and more severely than those used in sport.

Some behaviors and activities are widely condemned as abusive by people within the horse industry. Use of many performance-enhancing drugs is prohibited in most competitions, and organizations that sanction various events spend a great deal of money testing horses for illegal drugs. Some other training or showing practices are so widely condemned that they have been made illegal. The most well-known is soring, a practice of applying a caustic ointment just above the hooves of a Tennessee Walking Horse to make it pick up its feet higher. However, in spite of a federal law in the United States prohibiting this practice and routine inspections of horse shows by inspectors from the United States Department of Agriculture, the practice is still widespread and difficult to eliminate.

Some events themselves are also considered so abusive that they are banned in many countries. Among these are horse-tripping, a sport where riders chase and rope a loose-running horse by its front legs, throwing it to the ground.

Other events frequently targeted as abusive are more open to debate. Animal rights activists claim rodeos are cruel to animals and turn a blind eye to minor injuries which do not impair performance. Rodeo competitors, on the other hand, deny claims of cruelty, pointing out that an abused or injured animal is not useful and thus less profitable than a happy, healthy one. Rodeo sanctioning organizations argue that they continually work to improve animal health and rider safety. Animal living conditions vary, but many rodeo stock live in a natural setting on open range during the off-season and often live in healthier, more natural surroundings than many more pampered animals.

Horse racing is also seen as cruel by some people, particularly when animals are injured while racing. Racing came under renewed scrutiny following injury to the racehorse Barbaro, who broke his hind leg during the 2006 Preakness Stakes, and was euthanized on January 29, 2007. However, race horse trainers point out that horses who are abused will not perform at their peak ability. Furthermore, racing itself is conscious of the need to continually work to improve safety for both horses and jockeys and has made many improvements that have reduced or eliminated past abuses. Racehorses also live lives with excellent food, the best veterinary care available, and plenty of exercise. The screening process for banned drugs is the most rigorous in the industry, and many retired racehorses have a satisfying future off the track as either breeding animals or pleasure horses.