controversy surrounding rodeos

The Controversy Surrounding Rodeos

While rodeos might be a great American tribute to the spirit of the West, there are many people who find them distasteful. Much like bull-fighting in Spain, rodeos are a controversial issue in the United States. This article is intended to bring both sides of the issue to light. Hold on to your hat as we explore the controversy surrounding rodeos below.


Under the anti-rodeo category, there are a variety of reasons why many people object to rodeos, but there is usually one overarching reason. The most prevalent issue people take with rodeos is the ways in which they are inhumane to the animals. Continue reading and learn more here about the specific ways in which rodeos are considered inhumane to the animals.

Bull Riding

One of the most famous events of rodeos is hands-down bull riding. Bull riding comes under fire by animal rights activists because of its reliance on utilizing a device called a flank. The flank is tightened down along the bull’s stomach, and this is what causes them to buck like crazy. Since this is an annoyance to the bull, many feel that this is cruel treatment of the animal.

Team Roping

Team roping, also known as heading and heeling, is a rodeo event where two riders work as a team to lasso the head and the hind legs of a steer. Since this often puts a lot of shock on the steer, it is considered by many to be inhumane. While this may be inhumane, it is also important to note how tough and strong steers are.

Steer Wrestling

Steer wrestling, also referred to as bulldogging, is an event where a contestant chases a steer on a horse. Once the horse gets close enough to the steer, the contestant jumps from the horse to the steer and “bulldogs” it, wrestling it to the ground. This is especially shocking to animal rights activists, as it seems so violent.


The pro-rodeo side of the issue is teeming with all kinds of arguments for rodeos. While that may be the case, there are a couple of large reasons rodeo fans disagree that rodeos are bad. Continue reading below to learn about a few of these reasons.

Humane Treatment

The pro-rodeo side often takes issue with the argument that rodeos are inhumane. While some of the events might cause a little bit of pain for the animals, 99% of the time they recover quickly and completely. It is also important to note that rodeo contestants are oftentimes far more concerned about the animals’ health and well-being than most might realize.

In addition to these common arguments, there is also the argument that the animals are treated very well in the way that they are fed and stored at rodeo sites.

The American Spirit

A common defense of rodeos from the pro-rodeo side is that rodeos represent the pioneering American spirit. They claim that without the cowboys of the West, it would likely not be the economic and geopolitical powerhouse it is today. Rodeos help cowboys all over the United States feel closer to their sport, and to their careers, as many of them work as ranch hands.

Respect for the Animal

Much like bullfighters of Spain, many rodeo contestants are said to feel respect and admiration for the animals and are honored to be competing against the animals they are trying to overcome in the events.

The common argument is that since most anti-rodeo people have never actually watched a rodeo, much less worked with the animals, they could not possibly understand the respect they have for the bulls, steers, and horses.

The Roundup

No matter which side of the controversy surrounding rodeos you are on, it cannot be questioned that this is a hot subject in American culture. In summary, the arguments against rodeos generally revolve around the inhumane treatment of the animals involved. The arguments for rodeos are generally humane treatment, the spirit of the West, and the esteem for the animals.

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