As a kid, I played cowboys and indians just like a lot of other kids. I always wanted to be the indian though...because they were the coolest.
I also grew up going to a fair bit of rodeos including the Calgary Stampede. We went to the Stampede almost every summer while visiting our grandparents. My grandmother loved the festival where you could see all the animals on display for competition from various ranches throughout Canada , or to visit the food pavillion, or ride the midway, or go to the rodeo.
As a child I didn't question the roseo and it's effects on animals...and actually, it was when my dad had a ranch in alberta that I started to wonder about farm life. I was always an avid outdoorsperson as a kid. I've written about my other grandma's camp here before...and growing up in the Pacific Northwest and seeing whales, octopus, seals, bears,wolves in the wild was a massive influence. i became a vegetarian when I was about 12-13 years old. I began thinking about animals more and more. i loved jack london and animal stories in general. any kind of adventure story outside. To this day...I prefer novels with inter-species relationships and narratives.
I struggled with the world between wilderness and countryside. Wilderness won.
This week at the Calgary Stampede 4 horses have died. A young woman has been crushed by her own horse having a heart attack.
When my dad had his ranch I started seeing how cruel farm life could for animals. Our cat got electrocuted. Dogs would have very short life spans. Escaping fences and hit by cars, or killed by predators. Cows were often not allowed to breed on their own but artificially inseminated. We would go buy bull sperm and inseminate our cows ourselves.
As a teenager...this all started to bother me. Not over night but a slow inquiry about how we get our food, how our food lives till we eat it, and how our whole economy and way we think is influenced by our relationship to how we get food.
Like most people, I have a romantic notion of the cowboy...rugged, aloof, hardworking, independant, and shy just looking for work with animals. But it's long time to say goodbye to the rodeo and the last cowboys. As much as I love my memories of living on a ranch and riding horses and herding cows...or visiting the rodeo...it's a bad karma job.
Anyone who has worked or lived on a farm knows how shitty the job really is...death to totalitarian agriculture!
The old ways are not always the best ways...old minds suggest old programs...out with the programs period!
What is calf-roping? (From Vancouver Humane society)
Calf-roping, also known as tie-down roping (rodeo promoters changed the name to make it more palatable to the public), is probably the least popular rodeo event, even among avid rodeo fans. There is often a gasp from the crowds when the calf, just three to four months old, is brought to a sudden, jerking halt at the end of the rope.
The event starts with the calf contained in a steel-barred “chute” at the side of the arena. The calf is goaded, prodded and often has its tail twisted to ensure it will burst out of the chute at full speed (up to 27 miles per hour). The terrified calf is then chased by a mounted rider who must lasso the calf, jump of his horse, pick up the calf, slam it to the ground and tie three of its feet together. The event is timed and the rider who does it fastest wins.
Calves are sometimes injured or killed because of the sudden physical impact of the roping. The time pressure of the event and the prize money at stake can lead to poor roping, harsh handling and mistakes by riders – all of which put the calf at risk of injury. But it is not just the risk of injury that is the problem with calf-roping. It’s the fear.
The cruelty of fear
All cattle are “prey” animals and research has shown they are particularly sensitive to fear. Dr. Temple Grandin, the distinguished animal behaviourist, has written that fear is “so bad” for animals it can be worse than pain. There can be little doubt that a three-month-old calf, goaded and chased into an arena with a shouting crowd is suffering even before the rope pulls him off his feet. How can tormenting an animal in this way be acceptable as entertainment? Treating a dog this way would result in cruelty charges. Sadly, farm animals in Canada have no such legal protection – apparently even when they are used for mere entertainment.
1) Vancouver Humane society
2) 4 Horses Dead at rodeo.