Felix Gaedtke

Bucking the American rodeo tradition

Source: Al Jazeera

Oklahoma City, United States - The rodeo is an American tradition. It evolved from a leisure activity among cowboys who worked on cattle ranches when farming was king in the US, into the aggressive sports competition of today.

Rodeos – which attract and entertain huge crowds in the US – also play a role in preserving the tradition of the cowboy in modern society. Yet, this highly popular event has come under attack from animal rights groups who allege steers and broncos are harmed. Recently, more than 2,000 people gathered at the state fairgrounds in Oklahoma City to watch cowboys and cowgirls compete at a rodeo in a range of events such as bareback bronc riding, saddleback bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down or calf roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing.

It is that kind of activity for which People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) condemns rodeos, in what they call cruel treatment of the animals. PETA accuses rodeos of using equipment such as bucking or flank straps and electric prods to agitate animals and make them behave aggressively.

The group claims the animals used in rodeos often suffer from injuries such as deep organ bleeding, haemorrhaging, ripped tendons and torn ligaments.

Professional rodeo organisers, however, refute the mistreatment allegations. The International Professional Rodeo Association, one of the largest sanctioning bodies in the US, insists rules and regulations are in place to prevent any wrongdoing.



A competitor jumps off his bucking horse and clings on to an official during the bronc-riding event at the Oklahoma State Fair Grounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


A group of children pose for a photo in their cowboy and cowgirl attires at the International Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.


A bull rider tries his best to stay on top of the animal. During some rodeo events like bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling and flank or bucking straps are used to agitate the animal.


The competitor at the bull riding event scrambles for safety after being bucked off the bull’s back on to ground. Meanwhile, the rodeo clowns try to distract the bull and get it out of the arena.


A pair of cowboy boots in the locker room at the rodeo.


Participants for the Miss Rodeo beauty pageant are eagerly watching the event


A performer handles a calf to tie it down as part of the calf roping event at the International Finals Rodeo.


A group of women spectators capture the action at State Fair Grounds.


A group of steers held in caged enclosures before being let into the arena for the steer wrestling event. AJE-5

A cowboy wrestles a steer as part of the steer wrestling event at the International Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City.


Competitors at the International Rodeo Finals anxiously wait their turn to enter the arena and perform.   AJE-3

A horse right before the bronc-riding event is held inside a cage before its let out in the ring. Animal rights groups oppose rodeo events accusing them of being cruel towards the participating animals.

AJE-2Shawn Minor gets ready for the bronc-riding event. At the end of the three-day competition, Minor was the top money winner with over 15000$ in earnings.