The Truckee Rodeo recently celebrated its 40th year of ropin’ and ridin,’ providing an “entertainment” spectacle for the Truckee community.
Rodeos are promoted as an athletic event with pageantry, and the excitement and thrill of daring cowboys and cowgirls riding on the backs of bucking animals.
What’s not widely known (nor promoted) are the electric prods, tight bucking straps, harmful ropes and sharp boot spurs. Rodeos take normally tame, docile animals and terrorize them into behavior that makes them appear to be fierce and aggressive.
Injuries to animals, such as deep internal organ bruising, hemorrhaging, bone fractures, ripped tendons, and torn ligaments and muscles, are common occurrences in this violent so-called tradition.
Most people I know would never clothes line a baby animal, while it runs at full speed, abruptly stopping it, by means of a rope around its neck. Yet, at the rodeo, this event is called Calf Roping.
It’s easy for us to lose ourselves in the image driven mythology of the rugged, independent cowboy culture. What’s more challenging for us is to look more deeply at how violence and exploitation shows up in our communities and in ourselves.
Kindness toward animals is not a sign of weakness, its a sign of strength, and I’m hopeful that our community is strong enough to find other forms of entertainment. The kinds that don’t come at the expense of others.