I was recently in Queanbeyan, staying with some friends, and I attended the Queanbeyan rodeo, just to see what it was like.
I am from a rural background, though I have lived in cities most of my life. When I was growing up, Australian country folk regarded rodeos as a bizarre and strictly American sport that was completely unrelated to the husbandry of farm animals in Australia.
I understand that since then many American states have banned them. I was therefore curious about claims that rodeos are demonstrations of standard animal husbandry skills and practices.
This is what I saw:
- I saw steers having their tails pulled, bent over and tightly squeezed to make them leave of the chute.
- I saw a calf lassoed around the neck. The rope was extremely tight and the calf seemed to be gasping for breath. Next she was pulled suddenly and violently back, lifted slammed to the ground, on her side, and her legs tied together.
- I saw calves being hit and pulled by their ears.
- I saw cattle prods used on calves, which I thought was illegal. On one occasion the prod was used on the animal’s face.
- I saw horses with the flank strap between the animal’s penis and scrotum and pulled as tight as possible before they left the chute to make them buck.
I find it hard to believe that this could be described as a charity event. Any charity that accepts money from this kind of event should be ashamed of itself. It also seems to me that Queanbeyan Council is behaving quite cynically in hosting the rodeo, when the ACT just next door has banned rodeos – presumably because they are so cruel.
If the rodeo I saw in Queanbeyan really does represent standard treatment of animals on Australian farms these days, then practices have changed unbelievably for the worse since I was a child.
In fact, if it does represent normal practices in the treatment of Australian farm animals, I think I will be turning vegetarian.