In the sport of professional rodeo, cowboys share the limelight with the rodeo livestock. For a cowboy to compete at the highest level, the livestock also must be in peak condition.
Both are athletes in their own right. The very nature of rodeo requires a working relationship, and in some events a partnership, between the cowboys and animal athletes.
Rodeo athletes value their animals, as do the stock contractors that provide the livestock for the rodeos. Like most people, RSS members believe animals should be provided proper care and treatment.
Any cowboy will tell you he takes home a paycheck only when the animal is in top form. Stock contractors, the ranchers who raise and provide livestock to rodeos, also have an obvious financial interest in keeping the animals healthy.
Simple logic dictates that no sensible businessperson would abuse an animal that is expected to perform in the future. Most all members have lived and worked around animals for most of their lives, and they possess a high degree of respect and fondness for the livestock.
Hundreds of veterinarians compete in professional rodeo. “I think they participate because they have a deep interest in animals,” said Doug Corey, a Pendleton, Ore., veterinarian. “If there was any mistreatment going on, they wouldn’t participate.”
Animal welfare is a major and ongoing initiative of RSS. Not only does the association have rules to ensure the proper care and treatment of rodeo livestock, but it also has several veterinary advisory panels and periodically hosts educational seminars for veterinarians and rodeo industry members.