Way to make a Buck
Op Ed Editor
18 April 2004
I was nothing short of shocked to read WAY TO MAKE A
BUCK by staff writer Lee Hockstader, about bullriding. This article
glorifies rodeo events that are being challenged and stopped all over the
world. There is not one single mention of the controversy surrounding
bullriding, much less the strap - CALLED A GROIN STRAP, for God's sake -
that makes the bull buck.
No, esteemed Washington Post, the bull isn't
"genetically engineered to buck aggressively" - he bucks due to a strap or
rough rope cinched tightly near his genitals. Think you'd enjoy that, Mr.
Hockstader? No, revered Washington Post, of Woodward/Bernstein acclaim, the
bull doesn't have a "glint in his eye that suggests malice" - he's standing
peacefully in the chute, by your own account, till he's hit with an electric
prod, has his tail twisted, and is gouged with spurs before the groin strap
is yanked into place; THAT'S what makes him "...begin a convulsive,
clockwise, bucking spin...whirling like a helicopter before a crash..."
Where's the investigative reporting, Washington Post?
The strap is CLEARLY SEEN during all bucking events - the animal WILL NOT
BUCK without it! Even Steve Gander, organizer of the "World's Toughest
Rodeo" admits bucking bulls and horses are prodded with an electrical
hotshot. Where's the scrupulous journalism?
Ben Bradley must be spinning in his grave!
This is the ugly truth about the odious 'sport' you've
chosen to laud, that your reporter couldn't seem to find out:
Bucking bulls and horses die at rodeo events.
In January a horse was killed after breaking his leg
during a bucking event at the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse
Show in Denver. In Las Vegas a bull used for bucking events fell and
fractured his spine moments after leaving the chute. His injuries were so
severe he had to be killed. Veterinarian Dr. C.G.
Haber saw scores of animals discarded from rodeos and sent to slaughter; the
condition of the animals sickened him. "I have seen animals with six to
eight ribs broken from the spine, at times puncturing the lungs. I have seen
as much as two to three gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached
skin. Bullfights are merciful compared to rodeos. It's high time this cruel
sport be outlawed in the U.S." (
In an account published in the Buffalo News, upstate
resident Valerie Will reported, "I stood nearby as rodeo folk walked among
the calm bulls. As show time neared, they tried to get one of the bulls into
the area near the chute.
The bull resisted, scrunching into the corner.
His eyes teared, his nose ran and the bull urinated and
defecated. He rotated his head as if searching for a way out. His eyes
This is my experience with bullriding and rodeo events:
I have devoted every moment of my spare time to putting an end to them all.
Along with local activists, my efforts put a stop to
bullriding in North Salem, the South Bronx and Mount Vernon, N.Y. Our work
at the "Bronx International Championship Rodeo" was televised on Fox TV on a
beautiful spring day. The bulls sniffed the perfumed air and wagged their
tails peacefully. I had to leave when their torture started, sickened that I
couldn't stop it. This rodeo disgracefully used a dead 9/11 fireman's memory
to bring in other firefighters; I looked each of them in the eye and said
"Get your cruelty RIGHT HERE." They were decent people; they never came
While demonstrating against the rodeo in Mt. Vernon,
one of the 'cowboys' came outside to harass us. We asked him "How would you
like it if someone put an electric prod on your back?"
He answered "How would you like it if someone put an
electric prod in your pussy?" There's your heroes, Washington Post; there's
your folks who're "...like Vietnam veterans" as Hocktader quoted one of the
judges. Thankfully, Mt. Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis
is a decent man who did not invite the rodeo back.
The bull is not a block of wood; he is a sentient,
intelligent being whose mother loved him and who feels pain exactly like
your reporter. If what is done to the bulls were done to dogs and cats,
there would be an outcry across the land. The Washington Post must not allow
this exploitation to continue by being asleep at the journalistic wheel; I
demand all your reporting be thorough and truly educational, even regarding
those who can't speak for themselves - ESPECIALLY regarding those who can't
speak for themselves. I will not settle for less.
Kiley Blackman, Spokesperson
Animal Defenders of Westchester