Video Alleges Rodeo Horse Abuse

An animal welfare advocate alleges video images taken during the Reno Rodeo show horses being shocked repeatedly to promote performance in bucking and other events.

The high-profile Reno Rodeo took place June 14-23 in Reno, Nev. The event is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association (PRCA), an organization that sanctions professional rodeo events and venues in the U.S. and Canada.

On July 2 the animal welfare group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) released a video allegedly depicting rodeo personnel using a livestock prod to repeatedly shock horses contained in chutes before bucking events. SHARK President Steve Hindi said the procedure, also known as "hot shotting," is cruel because it inflicts pain to force animals to perform. "Hot shotting" also violates Reno Rodeo livestock welfare policy, Hindi said. Hindi is a longtime critic of rodeos on grounds that they exploit animals for entertainment purposes.

"What we do is go out and document (what happens) at these events," Hindi said. "It's cruel and abusive, and they (rodeo managers) don't want to talk about it."

Reno Rodeo spokesman Steve W. Schroeder said that while the video images were recorded at the Reno Rodeo, those depicted in the video were not directly affiliated with the event's administration or staff.

Cindy Schonholtz, PRCA animal welfare coordinator, said the organization had reviewed the SHARK video and information submitted by judges officiating at the event. She said PRCA rules permit using the handheld livestock prod device to ensure horses that tend to stall in the chutes exit safely. Use of the device is not inhumane and is only allowed by mutual agreement among the animal's owner, the rodeo judge, and the event contestant, she said.

"The livestock prod is powered by flashlight batteries, (and) the energy emitted from an electric livestock prod is similar to that of an electric fence," Schonholtz said. "It does not make a horse buck, nor does it affect the competition once the horse and competitor have safely exited the bucking chute."

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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