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The issue

Rodeos create an environment of stress, fear and pain for the animals used in a variety of events as part of the rodeo experience.

Calf roping is arguably the most serious animal welfare concern frequently taking place at rodeos across Australia today. Surrounded by strange sights, smells and loud noises, the young calf is separated from his or her mother and runs for their life as they are chased by a rider on a horse and then lassoed. The abrupt stop jerks the calf off their feet, to then crash to the ground, with the rider dismounting to grab the calf and pin them to the ground to tie three of their legs together with rope.

This is a distressing and terrifying experience for the calf, and risks serious injury, including damage to the windpipe from the lasso, bruising and broken ribs from being violently yanked off their feet and then being forced to the ground, and choking from the tightened rope around their neck and being dragged along the ground.

Calf roping causes fear, injury and pain. That’s why it’s effectively banned in Victoria and South Australia. But other states and territories allow it to continue.

What are the other issues with rodeos?

Sports such as bull riding, bronco riding (bucking horse) and steer wrestling all compromise the welfare of the animals involved, for the sake of entertainment.

Rodeo horses and bulls, for example, buck repeatedly as an instinctive reaction to being ridden, kicked with spurs and in response to the tightened flank strap around their sensitive underbelly. These are prey animals, and they respond in this way out of fear, stress, and panic associated with their perception of being attacked.

What needs to change

The RSPCA wants to see an end to calf roping. We want to see every state and territory place a ban on this cruel and terrifying practice. We also want to see businesses take a stand and commit to not sponsoring and promoting rodeos where calf roping takes place.