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Animal Welfare Facts

Bucking Bull, Animal Welfare, Rodeo
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Zero Tolerance

  • The health and safety of all animals involved in rodeo and bull riding events is of paramount importance to every rodeo organization.

  • There is a zero-tolerance policy in place for the mistreatment of any animal.

  • Penalties for the mistreatment of animals include fines, disqualification and even expulsion.

  • Animals in rodeo get the best food and medical care and are treated like elite athletes. 

Injuries in Rodeo and Bull Riding

  • The claim that animal injuries are “common” is myth promulgated to sensationalize the occurrence of rare injuries.  

  • PRCA tracks and reports all injuries occurring in state to the California Veterinary Medical Board. The PRCA has a 99.9% safety rating with the livestock in rodeo. Less than 1% of livestock exposures result in any form of injury.

  • A survey conducted at 148 PRCA rodeo performances and 70 sections of slack recorded 28 injuries occurring during 60,244 exposures. This calculates to an injury rate of .00046 or just under five-hundredths of 1%.

  • PBR reports bull injuries/fatalities occurring in .0002% of outs (the bull leaving the chute).

  • In more than 5,000 PBR bull outs in 2020, there were two bull injuries. 

  • Injuries ranging from a minor scratch to more severe only happen 1/100th of a percent of total animal exposures annually.

Flank or Bucking Straps

  • Flank straps are used as an extra cue to encourage bucking.

  • Flank straps do not harm or injure the bulls or horses and do not make them buck. Horses and bulls are bred to buck. Genetics are the most prevalent factor in determining the animal’s ability to buck. 

Electric Prods

  • Electric prods are used for only for the safety of the animal or contestant.

  • The electric prod has an output so small that it is measured in milliamps (1/1000th of an amp) - 1.5 to 4.0 mA.  This is slightly stronger than the shock a person may receive through static electricity.

  • Use of electric prods in a California rodeo is used in compliance with existing CA penal code 596.7

Wire Tie Downs

  • The tie-down is a safety device, which does not harm the horse.

  • The tie-down is used as a balance point for the horse to push into and keep its head down while running or pulling cattle.  The horse needs to have its head down to see the cattle’s movement and adjust accordingly.  It keeps the horse moving horizontally with its feet on the ground and its center of gravity low, much like an offensive lineman in football.  Horses that naturally keep their heads and center of gravity low do not need a tie down for balance.

  • All wire tie-downs must have a nose covering in ALL PRCA events.

  • In Charro events, tie-downs and nosebands must be leather, cotton, or waxed string/rope.  The use of any wire material is STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

  • Tie-downs are not used in PBR. They are used in equestrian events by contestants on their own horses.

Sharpened or Fixed Spurs or Rowels

  • All rowels on riders’ spurs in rodeo and bull riding are dull and do not harm the animal. Sharpened spurs are not permitted. 

  • The spurs in the bucking horse events are used by the contestants for balance and to keep time with the animal. 

  • In PBR, spurs are used by riders to help with grip and balance on the bull. PBR mandates a spur rowel that is dull to the touch. 

  • Flankmen, livestock owners, gate men, judges, and others are all monitoring to ensure sharpened spurs are not used. Spurs are inspected by personnel on the back of the chute as the rider is mounting the animal. Riders with sharp rowels, or hook spurs will be disqualified from the event, fined and could face suspension.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association 
Animal Welfare Facts

​The PRCA has been sanctioning rodeos since its first iteration in 1936, wrote its first animal welfare laws in the mid 1940’s, and has been the industry leader in creating the standard in animal welfare for rodeo.  The rodeo industry could not continue without the health and well-being of its animals being at the forefront of its concerns.  Today, the PRCA has over 70 rules covering the welfare of the livestock used in rodeos.

Animal Injuries

The claim that animal injuries are “common” is a myth sensationalizing the occurrence of rare injuries.   The PRCA has a 99.9% safety rating with the livestock in rodeo.  Less than 1% of livestock exposures result in any form of injury:

  • The claim that “many animals are put down” is false, a fallacy proven by simple economics and mathematics.  It is economically inviable that the owner of the livestock could afford, much less tolerate, the loss of “many” of his assets.  

  • Mathematically, the loss of “50%” – as has been claimed– of the animals per year, is completely false. No business can lose 50% of its product and remain a business.  

  • Misinformation is being used to allege that livestock used in rodeos are “wild” animals gathered from the plains and pastures, loaded up, hauled to the rodeo, and put into their respective events without conditioning to feed, transportation, human contact, and more importantly, the physical conditioning needed.  This is false. The animal athletes are bred for their specific purpose and trained for their respective events.

  • The livestock are in the truest sense, animal athletes.  No different than a football, basketball, baseball, or track athlete.  

  • Diets are monitored closely, as well as the best veterinarian care provided.  

Flank Straps

  • The purpose of the flank strap is to encourage the horse to kick as it is bucking.  It also helps the horse to slow down and remain in control with its head up as it is bucking.  

  • Flank straps must be covered in fleece or neoprene.  No wire or sharp/foreign objects are allowed including but not limited to zip ties, wire, plastic, steel, golf tees, etc.

  • Flank straps fit around the waist, much like a belt on a person.  When a horse is in the chute, the flank strap is loose. As the horse leaves the chute it is tightened to approximately the same tightness as a snug belt or a pair of shoelaces on a basketball or running shoe.  

  • The flank strap has a quick release mechanism so that a pickup man may release it when he rides up and helps the cowboy dismount from the horse at the end of the ride.  

  • ·he flank strap is not attached or wrapped to the genitals of a horse.  This is a myth and easily debunked by pictures of these animals in action.

Prods

  • The use of an electric prod in the chute is prohibited except if needed for the safety of the livestock, contestant, or personnel as determined by a rodeo judge – all extremely rare circumstances.

  • The electric prod has an output so small that it is measured in milliamps (1/1000th of an amp) - 1.5 to 4.0 mA.  This is slightly stronger than the shock a person may receive through static electricity.

  • A prod is used minimally to move 1,500+ pound animals who stall out in the bucking chute.  Similar to a sprinter leaving the starting block or a hurdler avoiding tripping over a hurdle, the move out of the chute needs to be as clean as possible.  Prods help with this action while keeping the animal safe.

  • It is also a matter of safety for the contestants by keeping the animal from dragging a leg and catching a toe in the gate or on the front of the chute. 

  • The use of an electric prod in California rodeos is used in compliance with existing California penal code 596.7 – “The rodeo management shall ensure that no electric prod or similar device is used on any animal once the animal is in the holding chute, unless necessary to protect the participants and spectators of the rodeo.”

  • California’s law followed the rules for prod usage that the PRCA has used and developed since 1960.

Spurs

  • ALL spurs are dull.  Sharpened spurs are strictly against the rules in PRCA events.

  • Rodeo spurs have rowels that are attached and roll freely.  Only in the bull riding are these rowels semi-locked (able to turn about 1/5 of a turn).

  • Bucking Events

    • The spurs in the bucking horse events are used for balance and to keep time with the animal as it is bucking. 

    • The rowels are dull, loose, and about the thickness of 2 quarters. 

    • They are used like hand holds for the rider’s feet but are reset each jump to keep in time with the horse. Bull spurs, also dull and not harmful to the animal, are the thickness of three quarters.

  • Timed Events (Tie-down Roping, Team Roping, Barrel Racing, and Steer Wrestling)

    • The spurs used in the timed events are used to move the horse forward as well as to get the horse to move its front feet or back in a certain direction. 

    • In the roping events and barrel racing, spurs are a cue to shift weight or bend the horse’s body to maintain balance while making a turn or absorbing the pull from a roped bovine.

    • The reins on a bridle tell the horse when to go, stop, and turn – the spurs tell the horse how fast, and how its body needs to be positioned when doing these.

Wire Tie Downs

  • All wire tie-downs must have a nose covering in ALL PRCA events.

  • Tie downs are used as a balance point for the animal and do not harm them.

Mexican Federation of Charros in California
FMCH - CA
Animal Welfare Facts

Charreria was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2016. Charreria is considered an important aspect of the identity of bearer communities and their cultural heritage since the late 1800’s.

Charreria is a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Riders, known as charros, are skilled horsemen who proudly carry on traditions such as roping and the handling of cattle and horses. Charros and their horses often spend decades together working in the ring and competing in events. Following the conclusion of their career, these horses can live up to another 20 years. Many find second careers in breeding and as therapy horses.

Animal Injuries

  • There is zero tolerance for animal abuse.  Punishments for evidence of animal abuse include fines and a potential lifetime ban.

  • Most charros make a living of breeding and raising their horses and livestock.

  • ·here is no economic value to have their animals injured or abused.

  • Many hours are spent training the animals to perform to their best abilities.

  • The safety rating with livestock in the charro events is similar to the PRCA.

  • ·n the case of any accident, we tend to the animal immediately with our vets and those who are trained to be vet techs.

Flank Straps

  • Both the bull rope and flank strap, or “verijero,” are made of cotton.  There are no spikes or sharp edges to it.

  • The flank strap is loosely fitted, and contrary to myth is not wrapped around the animal’s genitals. 

  • The flank strap is necessary so the animal bucks and does not flip over or fall back on the rider.  These straps help avoid injury to both the animals and the riders.

Prods

  • The use of an electric prod in the chute is prohibited except if needed for the safety of the livestock, contestant, or personnel as determined by a rodeo judge – all extremely rare circumstances.

  • The electric prod has an output so small that it is measured in milliamps (1/1000th of an amp) - 1.5 to 4.0 mA.  This is slightly stronger than the shock a person may receive through static electricity.

  • A prod is used minimally to move 1,500+ pound animals who stall out in the bucking chute.  Similar to a sprinter leaving the starting block or a hurdler avoiding tripping over a hurdle, the move out of the chute needs to be as clean as possible.  Prods help with this action while keeping the animal safe.

  • It is also a matter of safety for the contestants by keeping the animal from dragging a leg and catching a toe in the gate or on the front of the chute. 

  • The use of an electric prod in California rodeos is used in compliance with existing California penal code 596.7 – “The rodeo management shall ensure that no electric prod or similar device is used on any animal once the animal is in the holding chute, unless necessary to protect the participants and spectators of the rodeo.”

  • California’s law followed the rules for prod usage that the PRCA has used and developed since 1960.

Spurs

  • The spurs are used to assist the rider in holding on and keeping balance, when riding the bulls and bucking horses.

  • Hook spurs with sharp rowels, a tied heel, or angled shanks are strictly prohibited.

  • Competitors are under constant evaluation, and anyone who uses prohibited spurs will be disqualified. 

  • The commissioner at each event has two pairs of spurs that are readily accessible for all riders to use. These are the ONLY spurs allowed.  No one can use their own spurs.

  • For reining and roping events, the spurs are dulled with free rolling rowels. Spurs are used as a cue for horses to move forward and for the rider’s balance.

Wire Tie Downs

  • Tie downs and nosebands must be leather, cotton, or waxed string/rope.

  • The use of any wire material is STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Professional Bull Riders - PBR Bulls
Animal Welfare Facts

Every bull ride takes two athletes – a courageous cowboy and world-class bovine. 

PBR is a sport that celebrates its animal athletes, who live a great, long life.  We are proud to be part of a sport that always puts its animal athletes first.  Following the first-class life of a professional athlete, getting the very best food, training and medical care, these bulls retire to stud at a relatively young age.

The prized animal athletes competing in professional bull riding are cared for as true stars of the sport.  Here are important facts about the world-class treatment of the bulls in PBR:

The bulls buck because of genetics

Just as thoroughbred racehorses are carefully bred to run fast, PBR bucking bulls are genetically disposed to jump, kick and spin with power and grace.  They are NEVER shocked, coerced, or harmfully prodded to compete.  The only training device used to stimulate bucking behavior is a flank strap tied relatively loosely around the haunches of the bull.  This cues the animal’s movement.

The flank strap does not hurt the bull

This soft cotton rope – perhaps the most misunderstood piece of equipment in sports – is used to encourage a genetically pre-disposed bucking bull to kick.  Imagine a kitten with a ribbon loosely tied around its paw, trying to shoo it away.  The flank strap never touches the bulls’ genitals.

Spurs are dull and do not harm the bull

In PBR, spurs are used by riders to help with grip and balance on the back of the bull. PBR mandates a spur rowel that is dull to the touch. Judges inspect each rider’s boots prior to every event. A rider found with spurs in violation of the rules would be disqualified, fined, and potentially suspended.

Bucking bulls have a carefully regulated diet, health regimine, travel and performance schedule

PBR has rigorous guidelines for transporting the bulls, required travel rest periods, and other policies based on the primacy of animal welfare.  Bulls compete at most two times in any given weekend, many only once.  Beyond that, stock contractors treat their prized animal athletes like members of their own family, including giving them the very best food and health care. Stock contractors determine their bulls’ schedules in the best interests of their valuable animal athletes whose health and well-being impact their livelihood. 

The bulls enjoy what they are doing

Each stock contractor has stories about bulls eager to rush into the trailer to go to PBR events. They have a job to do, which they love.  They buck with the same prideful zeal as a dog returning to its owner a thrown ball.  Just as it is evident when a pet is happy, the bulls exhibit the same energetic, tail-wagging behavior on game day. 

PBR Bulls livea a long and healthy life

Outside the PBR, bulls enter the food supply at the average age of three. PBR bulls enjoy a substantially longer and better life.  Following the first-class life of a professional athlete, getting the very best food, training and medical care, these bulls retire to stud at a relatively young age.  They live the remainder of their pampered life breeding on a rural ranch. In the bovine world, becoming a PBR bucking bull is like winning the animal lottery.  

Olympics and Other Equestrian Events

 Like in rodeo, Equestrian spurs are used as cues to change pace and move the horse's feet and body in certain directions and ways.  Equestrian events, such as dressage, western pleaasure, reining  and cutting, permit spurs to have rowels.

In dressage and hunter jumper events the style of spur used are typically smooth and blunt - a fixed spur.  Some english discipline utilize spurs with rowels that are  free to rotate.   

The proposed City of Los Angeles ordinance was written by design to ban rodeo events by targeting equipment and that equipment is also used by other equestrian disciplines, and will effectively stop the Olympics and other equestrian events from taking place in Los Angeles.  

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