~ Matthew Woodington, DVM
As the onsite staff veterinarian for the Eagle Rodeo and a proud member of our Board of Directors; I get asked on a regular basis, “are the animals treated well?”
This is an easy answer for me. As someone that grew up around rodeo and the horse racing world, I see the value that the cowboys, cowgirls and stock contractors place in the livestock and horses that we use to compete in the sports we all love. Any cowboy will tell you they take home a paycheck only when the animal is in top form. We go above and beyond to make sure this is true for all animals in our care.
One of the biggest things most don’t realize is the investment that both the participants and stock contractors have in these animals. Bucking horses often continue to buck at high levels into their twenties and bulls buck well into their teens.
This does not occur without the wonderful health programs provided at private ranches or any rodeo ground. While on the rodeo grounds they are inspected at least twice per day for injuries or illness. Any animal that is not 100% healthy will be treated and not allowed to participate until they are veterinarian cleared. Healthy, well-cared for animals are the center of any rodeo.
The PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) has countless rules to ensure the health and well-being of participating livestock and the safety of our two-legged competitors. Any PRCA member caught using unnecessary roughness or abusing an animal may be immediately disqualified from the rodeo and fined. This holds true whether it is in the competitive arena or elsewhere on the rodeo grounds. Other PRCA rules include:
– A veterinarian must be on site during all PRCA competitions
– No sharp objects on any tack or equipment used on the animal
– Chutes must be constructed with the safety of the animals in mind.
– No sharp spurs for any events. This is closely monitored by the PRCA officials.
The reason we get involved as promoters and participants at the Eagle Rodeo, is because of our love for the sport. That love extends to the animals that are used to compete. We hope that all animals involved in the sport of rodeo remain healthy and continue to compete for a long time to come.