Is ethical rodeo possible? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 40 Old 11-08-2018, 07:15 PM
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A lot of rodeo horses have good lives. Probably better than mine.

I've been reading George Schaller's study, The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations (Wildlife Behavior and Ecology series). 500 pages and I'm reading parts that interest me. Under mortality....well, lets just say few lions in the wild ever experience old age! And if someone tells you humans are the only ones who murder? I don't think lions have a conception of "murder", but apparently they kill each other deliberately and frequently.

The natural world is a harsh and unforgiving place. I'm pretty sure most rodeo animals (and race horses) have more pleasant lives than what they would experience in the wild.
But we aren't talking about the natural world at all, but the world of domestic animals controlled by human beings. The choice is not rodeo or being feral. It's rodeo with (possibly) better ethics.
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post #12 of 40 Old 11-08-2018, 07:41 PM
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The problem with possibly better ethics, @Avna , is that it never ends. Many argue horses should never be ridden at all, or compelled to do anything 'false' to their desires. By that standard, I'm unethical if I ride Bandit solo into the desert. He doesn't object, but he obviously sees no good reason to spend energy carrying me when there are no other horses there for him to protect - which is what he thinks he is doing when we ride out as a group. He sighs & does it, but he'd rather hang around with the other horses.

Or suppose you let ME decide what is ethical. I have problems with most horse sports. I would probably find reining, WP, dressage...almost any arena sport "unethical". They aren't needed and competition by humans gives incentive to put winning ahead of the horse. I honestly feel asking horses to buck their rider off is more in tune with their true nature than asking them to spin around in reining, or collect for dressage, or be bred for a WP lope!

My friend with a ranch freely admits Trooper is likely to outlive his siblings. The 20-40 mile days of riding, all year long, year after year, is hard on horses. It is a hard life for humans too. My friend couldn't lift his hands above his shoulders by the time he was 55. Hiring more help and avoiding the most strenuous work for the last 10 years has helped, but ranch work can be very tough. Riding out when it is 20 below isn't fun for a horse (or rider). So...is it ethical?

Rather than go around judging everyone else, I've decided that a horse who can live his life longer and with less pain doing X - dressage, ranch work, reining, bucking, etc - has no right to complain humans aren't doing OK by him. Beyond that, I'm not qualified to judge others. Well, unless it involves crank nosebands, rounding a horse, a WP lope, or any one of a number of other practices I've criticized in the past!
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post #13 of 40 Old 11-08-2018, 07:47 PM
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The problem with possibly better ethics, @Avna , is that it never ends.
Of course it doesn't. It is the very nature of ethics to reach for more. We still need to keep thinking about the questions (as of course you do). While always being aware that there is never anything going to be anything available but a balancing act between oblivious cruelty on one hand and rigid fanaticism on the other.

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post #14 of 40 Old 11-08-2018, 09:35 PM
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The problem with possibly better ethics, @Avna , is that it never ends.
Same with better technology, better science, better medicine, better nutrition, better child rearing, better working conditions, better legal framework...better horsemanship. We observe, we learn, we improve. Just because there's no identifiable terminal ideal status doesn't make betterment futile.
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post #15 of 40 Old 11-08-2018, 11:46 PM
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"Just because there's no identifiable terminal ideal status doesn't make betterment futile." - @mmshiro

Define "better". Computer speed? That is easy. Effectiveness of a vaccine? That is easy. But in horse sports? Dressage enthusiasts will tell you their sport betters the horse. WP enthusiasts will say the same thing. But would a HORSE agree?

If one looks at rodeo, horses arguably have it better in many rodeo sports than many horse sports. They run fast, stop, and keep a rope tight. They buck for part of a minute. They race forward and their rider jumps off of them and onto a steer - harder on man and steer than horse. I can't help but believe the horse below thinks, "Better you than me, Dude!"



If one truly wanted to be as ethical as possible with horses, one ought to make the HORSE feel good and live long. So don't ride, make sure it has ample food, other horses, room to move and exercise if desired, etc. But of course, if that is the standard, most horses would be killed and very few would be left in the world.
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A perfect book on riding could be written only by a horse. Only he could easily answer all the questions endlessly argued by us riders. Only a horse could say positively how the rider should sit in order to abuse him less; how his rider should control him so that the aids are easily understood, and how the trainer should school him so that the training proceeds in a comprehensible manner. As long as little pertaining to horses, and hence to riding, can be stated with mathematical precision, riders are bound to disagree...

...Far from all of us, or all of our horses, possess the essentials to become great, and futile attempts to imitate outstanding riders, and to school average horses the way the best are trained, only succeed in making frustrated riders and unhappy animals. On the other hand, everyone who knows his own and his horse's limitations and chooses a suitable form of riding and suitable manner of participating in it, may derive much pleasure from it...

- Common Sense Horsemanship, VS LIttauer, 1963.
Folks can draw lines where they will. It seems to me that rodeo horses have little to complain about compared to many other horses, and the majority of horses have little to complain about compared to life apart from humans.

What bothers me concerning the ethics of horse riding and ownership lies more in how we treat an older horse, or how we treat a horse like Cowboy, who had at least 6 owners in his first 14 years and remains so bitter about arena riding that he still panics at being ridden in one a full 6 years after his lesson horse days. If you could ask a horse, I suspect many would prefer the life of a rodeo horse to that of a lesson horse. But not being a horse, I can only guess.

Thinking out loud: Perhaps horse can only be ethically ridden the way a mule has to be ridden. My mule-loving farrier would probably agree.
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post #16 of 40 Old 11-09-2018, 07:21 AM
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"Just because there's no identifiable terminal ideal status doesn't make betterment futile." - @mmshiro

Define "better". Computer speed? That is easy. Effectiveness of a vaccine? That is easy. But in horse sports? Dressage enthusiasts will tell you their sport betters the horse. WP enthusiasts will say the same thing. But would a HORSE agree?
Sustainability. If your horse retires from its sport because it is no longer competitive, it should still be sound and sane enough to perform in the sport for someone with lower demands. Your working conditions should not burn you out, an athlete's training regime should not leave him/her a cripple or drug addict; the same is true for the horse's working and training conditions.

For example, I like trail riding. If I were in the market for a horse, I'd probably look for a retired endurance horse that still likes going out, but doesn't have the speed and stamina for competition anymore - that wants to be an amateur endurance horse now and still has the physical and mental condition to do so.

If training methods leave a horse physically broken, dispirited, and in need of rehabilitation before it can be a pleasure mount, then the training methods are unethical - as measured by the condition of the horse. Race horses, for example, require extensive rehab before they can even begin to be trained for an after-track life - unethical. Many show horses live their lives in boxes, only to be taken out and yanked about by the mouth for an hour, so they get neurotic and defensive - unethical. My horse, getting ready for a trail ride, has his mouth open for the bit while I'm still lining up the nose band - probably telling me he doesn't terribly mind lugging me around for a bit.

So I guess, "better performance horse training" is like "better forestry": sustainable.
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post #17 of 40 Old 11-09-2018, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
Sustainability. If your horse retires from its sport because it is no longer competitive, it should still be sound and sane enough to perform in the sport for someone with lower demands. Your working conditions should not burn you out, an athlete's training regime should not leave him/her a cripple or drug addict; the same is true for the horse's working and training conditions.

For example, I like trail riding. If I were in the market for a horse, I'd probably look for a retired endurance horse that still likes going out, but doesn't have the speed and stamina for competition anymore - that wants to be an amateur endurance horse now and still has the physical and mental condition to do so.

If training methods leave a horse physically broken, dispirited, and in need of rehabilitation before it can be a pleasure mount, then the training methods are unethical - as measured by the condition of the horse. Race horses, for example, require extensive rehab before they can even begin to be trained for an after-track life - unethical. Many show horses live their lives in boxes, only to be taken out and yanked about by the mouth for an hour, so they get neurotic and defensive - unethical. My horse, getting ready for a trail ride, has his mouth open for the bit while I'm still lining up the nose band - probably telling me he doesn't terribly mind lugging me around for a bit.

So I guess, "better performance horse training" is like "better forestry": sustainable.
Wow. I will suggest that favoring your own discipline while having a jaundiced view of others is what we in horses need to be cautious of.

Whether it is rodeo or trail riding.

I strongly disagree with your broadbrush criticism of racing and showing.
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post #18 of 40 Old 11-09-2018, 08:28 AM
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Wow. I will suggest that favoring your own discipline while having a jaundiced view of others is what we in horses need to be cautious of.

Whether it is rodeo or trail riding.

I strongly disagree with your broadbrush criticism of racing and showing.
Having ridden both ex-race and ex-show horses, my assessment is based on observation.
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post #19 of 40 Old 11-09-2018, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
Race horses, for example, require extensive rehab before they can even begin to be trained for an after-track life - unethical.
Exactly what "rehab" are you talking about?

If you are talking about training, well, that's not rehab. That's just new training for the horse's next career. Not what I consider unethical. It's just a job change.

If you change jobs, you need new training too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
Many show horses live their lives in boxes, only to be taken out and yanked about by the mouth for an hour, so they get neurotic and defensive - unethical.

Having ridden both ex-race and ex-show horses, my assessment is based on observation.
Curious: How many ex-show horses have you ridden? And maybe specifically, shown in what event?

Personally, I would find your assessment very sterotypical and not a true reflection. I won't deny that there are bad trainers and bad methods out there; because there are. But there's a lot of GOOD people out there showing, who take excellent care of their horses.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post

My horse, getting ready for a trail ride, has his mouth open for the bit while I'm still lining up the nose band - probably telling me he doesn't terribly mind lugging me around for a bit.

So I guess, "better performance horse training" is like "better forestry": sustainable.
What unethical to me, is a TRAIL RIDER tacking up their horse in a saddle that does not fit, riding the horse even though they are lame (founder), and using a bit that the horse clearly doesn't like (head in the air, fighting bit, etc). Sadly, I've seen many of these riders come and go where I board. Mostly, I just keep my mouth shut b/c it's not my monkey and not my circus. That is just an unethical to me, as anything else: An ignorant rider who thinks they are "just trail riding" and so the horse should be fine to handle it.

So do not keep your classification so narrow as to only include performance horses. Trail horses can certainly be abused and mistreated as well.

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post #20 of 40 Old 11-09-2018, 09:40 AM
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Is ethical rodeo possible?

Can it be performed without any animal cruelty involved?

Some groups like PETA will have you think rodeo is horrible but what is the truth about humaneness and rodeo?

PS - Speaking of circuit entertainment with animals and clowns, what about performing horses in circuses?
How are they really treated?

OP, are you asking how rodeo animals are treated?

I guess, what is the purpose/goal of your question?

While there are always exceptions and examples of horses/livestock being mistreated in ANY discipline, the vast majority of rodeo horses and animals are very well taken care of. Including circus animals.

Why would you want to abuse or mistreat an animal that is your source of revenue and livelihood? They can't make you money unless they are well cared for and can perform their job.

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