Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Protests of calf roping ignore its roots in ranching, veteran contestant says
With a quick nod, Adam Gray’s world blurs into motion.
A 250-pound calf shoots out of a metal gate with Gray and his horse, Tux, close on its heels. When Tux thrusts forward with his back legs, Gray swings a stiff rope loop out of his right hand, hoping to catch calf No. 95 by the neck. On this Thursday night, he misses. His loop narrows and falls onto the dirt as thousands in NRG Stadium groan in sympathy.
If Gray had his way, the rope would catch and force the calf to spin around. Gray would jump off Tux, throw the calf to the ground and hitch three of its legs together...Welcome to tie-down roping, a decades-old rodeo sport that, in recent years, has become a target for picket lines and petitions by animal rights groups. A handful of protesters in Houston have lined the entrance of the Livestock Show & Rodeo for the past several years, taking aim at the sport with signs reading “real men don’t hurt babies,” and “calves hate rodeo.”
Klay Rutherford, a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, said the sport is nothing more than glorified animal abuse. Calves can break legs, tear ligaments, hemorrhage or even die in these events, he said. “It’s not a sport if there are unwilling participants,” Rutherford said. “Rodeos celebrate a pathetic side of this wild west when bored men had nothing better to do than abuse their livestock in the evenings.”
That impression is far from the truth, according to Gray and Catherine Schultz, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s managing director of sports and event presentations. Calf roping has long been necessary on ranches where the nearest pen to quarantine an animal may be several thousand acres away. “It really started as proper care for livestock out on big ranches,” Schutlz said. “It’s tying the calf, making sure it’s in proper health, that there’s nothing that we need to doctor and then letting it go back into its herd.”...MORE