SPCA New Zealand

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Advice & welfare


Animals in Entertainment, Sport, and Work

SPCA advocates for an end to the use of animals in rodeo events in New Zealand.

Rodeo involves a number of competitive events that can cause significant injury and unreasonable suffering and/or distress to the animals involved.

While rodeo continues in New Zealand, SPCA advocates for those involved in rodeos to improve practices and to provide a Good Life where rodeo animals experience positive welfare and their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met for the whole of their lives.

SPCA advocates that all persons involved in the breeding, keeping, or use of animals for rodeo must have the facilities, skills, knowledge, and resources to provide them with a Good Life where they experience positive welfare and meet their physical, health and behavioural needs throughout their life.

SPCA advocates for the immediate discontinuation of flank straps, spurs, prods, whips and bits during all rodeo events and training as these cause pain, discomfort, distress and anxiety.

(See Horses in Sport and Entertainment for more information)

SPCA advocates for the immediate discontinuation of events involving lassoing (calf roping, team roping and rope andtie) due to the risk of significant neck injury and the high levels of stress caused to animals.

During lassoing events, riders on horseback lasso the animal around the neck head or hind quarters (event dependent) and bring the animal to a sudden stop before bringing the animal to the ground. Lassoing around the neck can result in significant neck inflammation, severe winding (from pressure on the trachea) and bruising from coming to a stop from high speed. Musculoskeletal injuries and bruising can also result from being thrown to the ground. Injuries to the cervical spine including fracture, luxation and alteration of vertebra position can also occur.

SPCA advocates for the immediate discontinuation of steer wrestling events due to the pain, discomfort, distress and anxiety caused.

During steer wrestling events animals are lifted and dumped to the ground which can result in pain, discomfort, distress and anxiety. Steers can also be maintained at lower body condition for the course of rodeo season leading to hunger and distress.

SPCA advocates for the immediate discontinuation of events involving young animals (calf roping and calf riding) due to risk of injury to young animals and the stress, fear and anxiety caused.

Calf roping involves significant risk of injury from lassoing calves around neck, significant inflammation of the neck, severe winding from pressure on the trachea, musculoskeletal injuries and bruising from coming to a sudden stop followed by being thrown to the ground.

SPCA advocates that children’s involvement in activities involving animals should act to develop an understanding of and empathy for all animals.

Calf riding requires the participant to remain mounted for 8 seconds to record a score. The calf is fitted with a flack strap to encourage the calf to buck to dislodge the rider. The calf riding event is designed to allow younger competitor to participate in rodeo events. Calf riding normalises disrespect of animals (exploitation for entertainment) and promotes inhumane care of animals to children.

SPCA is opposed to riding events (bull and steer riding, and saddle and bareback bronc riding) due to the fear associated with flank strap, discomfort and irritation from the flank strap and the rider, and risk of significant spinal injuries/fractures/luxation that can result in euthanasia.

During bull and steer riding, and saddle and bareback bronc riding the animal is fitted with the flank strap to encourage bucking. The animal then bucks to dislodge the rider. The animal is likely to experience discomfort or irritation from the flank and chest straps, including abrasions from the strap and from spurring actions.

SPCA is concerned about barrel racing due to the equipment involved and the risk of lameness and chronic injuries experienced later in life (e.g. arthritis).

During barrel racing, riders guide horses around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern in shortest possible time. SPCA is opposed to the use of whips, spurs and severe bits and aggressive use of bits (snapping) which are often used during barrel racing events and in training for these events. This equipment can cause significant levels of pain and injury leading to distress.

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