Originally Posted by AndalusianRobyn View Post
Super interesting thread. I actually have some questions in regard to rodeo stock, if anyone can answer them.
Obviously there is no sector of the horse industry where every person in the industry has the same standards for livestock care. There is abuse in every industry and there are great, thorough horsemen in every industry.
Keeping that in mind, my questions are as follows:
1) I understand that rodeo stock is bred to be rodeo stock. That being said- how do they train bucking broncs/bulls? I've heard they are bred to love it, so is training pretty minimal? Additionally, what generally happens to them after they retire? How long is the average career?
2) I have heard that calf roping is quite hard on the calves. I've heard they can bruise so badly their skin separates from their fat/muscle and they end up with air pockets. I HAVE NEVER ASSUMED THIS TO BE TRUE as I understand that I am not educated on this subject and thus would have no way of knowing what is and isn't true. Does anyone have experience in this area? What are the consequences of the sport like for the average calf used for roping?
If anyone can answer these questions for me, I'd love to get a bit more educated!
To answer question 1:
Yes, a lot of stock contractors also have breeding programs or buy stock from breeders who breed for the sole purpose of bucking horses and bulls. No different than any other discipline.
However some horses who were intended as riding horses for whatever discipline but ended up not fit for the general public to ride will get sent to a stock contractor.(example, a horse who bucks consistently and has hurt their riders) Some will eventually quit bucking and go back to being saddle horses some end up being career bucking horses.
There is training involved. The horses do not buck out of pain or fear like PETA would like you to believe. Training bucking horses is conditioning a horse's natural instincts. A horse naturally wants to buck when saddled. Where as most of us condition a horse to NOT buck, bucking horses are rewarded when bucking, conditioned to do so.
They use a remote control dummy box, when the horse bucks the horse is rewarded by the dummy being released off of his back along with the flank. No different than how we teach a horse to do what we want by pressure and release.
Careers are lengthy as they don't really work that hard. Good stock end up being breeding stock. Older horses that may not buck as hard anymore might be better suited for jr. or high school rodeos. Or they may get turned out for retirement. Some horses end up being saddle horses or pickup horses. My husbands pickup horse was a flunked out bucking horse.
I also owned a retired bucking horse who anyone could ride, pack in to the mountain and hunt off of. Just don't try to lope him...LOL.. found out the hard way. If you didn't try to lope him a toddler could ride him.
I have never heard of their skin separating from their muscle. I have roped a lot of calves in my life and never recall anything like this happening. Roping, like anything, if done well is perfectly safe. We rope calves to brand, vaccinate and castrate. It has been proven that roping, again if done correctly, is less stressful than running them through a chute or a calf table. From a sporting perspective, I take very good care of my roping cattle. Being abusive to them does no one any favors. If they sour because they are sore or hurt I can't use them. The heifers I have now once they are big will probably go to breed more or go to the feedlot like any other bovine. Size and breed are crucial to sport cattle as far as roping goes. Not too many will want to come to your jackpot team roping if your steers/heifers weigh 900 lbs. Or your calf roping if you have 600 lb calves. And depending on what you're doing certain breeds are better suited.For example, Corrientes are the breed of choice for team roping cattle and you have to be using some dairy breeds for calf roping due to how they carry their tail when running due to the possibility of catching it in your loop and breaking it.
There is always the possibility of things going wrong but you take that chance every time you are around live animals. I think for the most part most people try to minimize the wrecks and the casualties. Those who don't are the ones that make the rest of us look bad.