July 20th, 2019

Vermont Humane Federation Opposes Rawhide Rodeo 

To The Editor,

The Vermont Humane Federation (VHF) opposes the presentation of Rawhide Rodeo at Thunder Road in Barre. We urge Vermonters to boycott this event and to contact Thunder Road and its co-sponsors to let them know that cruelty to animals is not entertainment.

Rawhide Rodeo will feature many standard rodeo events that recreate, and grossly exaggerate, methods used by cowboys in the old west to break horses and work livestock. Unlike working livestock, however, rodeo animals are sent into the ring, often after being repeatedly shocked with cattle prods, many with bucking straps cinched tightly around their genitalia, thus ensuring that they will buck continuously, which itself causes additional pain and injury. In addition, the horses are spurred to further exaggerate the bucking motion. 

According to Dr. Peggy Larson, a veterinarian and former rodeo bronc rider, the cruelest event is roping. “In calf roping, baby calves … are forced to run in excess of 25 miles per hour when they are roped. The reason they run at such high speeds is that they are being tortured in the holding chute. Their tails are twisted… and they are shocked with electric prods …. They burst out of the chute at top speed only to be stopped short – clotheslined – with a choking rope around the neck. They are often injured and some are killed.”

 Steers fare no better. They are shocked out of the chute and, while running at top speed, are roped while the roper’s horse goes in the opposite direction, bringing the steer down hard and jerking his neck 180 degrees or more. Larson says this causes “…the animal to be violently tripped, rolled and dragged … the roper’s intent is to make the steer sustain a sufficiently violent fall and subsequent dragging to stun him. The purpose of stunning is merely to enable the roper to tie the steer’s legs for a score. If the steer is not sufficiently stunned in the first attempt, he may be tripped and dragged repeatedly in the same run until he stays down.”

VHF believes that this event glorifies and promotes cruelty to animals in the guise of entertainment. VHF President Jess Danyow explained, “While watching these events may be entertaining for some, it is a living hell for the animals. It has no place in our state.”

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