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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 7 January 2003 Issue

The fantasy of the rodeo

Hi All, bad enough to be savagely mean to the animals, for a so-called "sport", but to tell the journalist they love and treat so well their calves...(BEFORE they throw them up on the air with a lasso letting them fall with FULL force to the ground and drag them...) is the culmination of perversion and hypocrisy!!! My letter at the end. Please do write them to enlighten the journalist and her readers. Thanks so very much! Adela

"Animals play key role in success of rodeos"

By Emily Baker

MRT Correspondent

ODESSA -- Walk through the crowd at a rodeo sometime, and several statements float in the dirt-filled air. There are usually a few comments about eyefuls of blue jeans, but animals receive their share of discussion.

Children exclaim how they long to ride a horse. Awe-filled adults talk about the muscle and power of the bucking bulls. And someone inevitably says how they would love to snuggle up with one of those cute and seemingly cuddly calves.

The zoo of mighty bucking bulls, graceful bucking horses and adorable little roping calves that will be at this year's SandHills rodeo are all owned and cared for by one company -- the Harry Vold Rodeo Company.

Company patriarch Harry Vold has been in the rodeo stock business since the 1950s, and since then he has been named the PRCA's Stock Contractor of the Year 11 times. He was also inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1994 and has had several animals named bucking stock of the year. He is also one of two men still living who has had stock featured in every National Finals Rodeo ever held. Vold has been providing the stock for the SandHills rodeo every year since 1967.

The company cares for their animals on a 30,000-acre ranch located 27 miles southeast of Pueblo, Colo. Most of their animals are born and raised on the ranch, but some are purchased at stock sales.

Putting together a good pen of rodeo stock "is like putting together a good football team," Vold said. "You put together the very best guys, and they go through a try-out period to determine who the best of the best are. You search all over the country for them. Finding good stock doesn't just happen; you have to look for them."

And because exceptional bucking stock is rare, it is quite valuable.

Vold's daughter Kirsten Vold Gilbert is the company's general manager. She said many of the bucking horses sell for around $20,000 each. Excellent bucking bulls run for a similar price with some of the world's best stock touring on the prestigious Professional Bull Riders' Built Ford Tough Series running as high as $75,000-$100,000 a head.

"When you add everything up, you have a pasture full of animals worth well more than $1 million," she said.

Calves and steers are worth beef market prices, which are usually $500-$525 for steers and $360-$400 for calves, Mrs. Gilbert said.

Operating costs are rather large as well. Neither Vold nor Mrs. Gilbert had a number for the operating cost, but Mrs. Gilbert said the most expensive things are food and veterinary costs.

"We have had a terrible drought in Colorado this year, so our expenses are up because we've been having to import hay from Kansas and Oklahoma," Vold's wife, Karen, said.

The company must also provide food for the animals while they are staying at the pens at the Coliseum between rodeo performances.

Mrs. Gilbert broke down the numbers of stock at the SandHills rodeo:

74 horses

about 50 bulls

50 calves

36 steers for steer wrestling

50 steers for team roping

100 steers for steer roping.

She said each bull and horse eats about 20 pounds of hay plus another seven pounds of grain for horses and another 13 pounds of grain for bulls.

Plus, the animals must all be transported from Colorado in three semi-trucks and a trailer, she said.

"You don't want to keep the animals on a truck for more than 12 hours, so you have to make arrangements for a place to put them while they rest and some food for them," she said.

High-quality bucking stock is important for one simple reason -- the bucking horse or bucking bull is half the rider's score. The better the animal, the higher a score will be, and that translates to a better chance for the rider to win.

So, do the stock contractors hope cowboys will bite the dust?

"Sure," Mrs. Gilbert said with a smile. "When they get bucked off, the animal wins. But on the other hand, we want them to stay on so we can see a good ride."

And the animals enjoy the competition as well, Mrs. Gilbert said.

"If you look closely, you'll see this. When the cowboy is bouncing around, the horse feels that and will buck harder," she said.

Bucking stock won't buck unless they want to, the Volds said, and bucking is an animal talent, of sorts. Some animals like to buck, and they do it well. Those animals are recruited to a life of luxury of top-quality food and lots of love in the rodeo business, the Volds said.

"They are like family pets," Mrs. Vold said. "You don't ever abuse an animal that's making a living for you."

Most misconceptions about the sport of rodeo deal with the treatment of animals and why the animals buck. The flank strap -- a fleece-lined leather strap that is fasten around the animal's flank -- is used as a signal to tell the animal when the time to buck comes. It does not force the animal to buck.

"There is no way to force (an animal) to buck," Vold said. "You can't torture one to do that."

Nine-time World Champion rodeo athlete and Odessa College alumnus Ty Murray once explained the flank strap in this way: Think of the discomfort caused by a tight belt. Chances are, a person with a tight belt would try to sit as still as possible. Same goes for a flank strap. If it were fastened tightly around the animal, it wouldn't buck at all.

And, contrary to popular belief, the flank strap is not fastened near or around the bull's male parts.

Even the most seasoned of rodeo stock will occasionally decide not to buck.

"There are times when the chute opens and the animal won't buck," Mrs. Vold said.

Animals typically buck when they are playing, and bucking is something "they love to do," Mrs. Vold said.

The rodeo will be held tonight and Jan. 8-11 at the Ector County Coliseum.

Editors note: This pretty picture of a loving rodeo family is quite a piece of propaganda and Emily Baker needs to know the truth.Please read the following sample letter.Learn how rodeo animals are really treated and the horrors they suffer. Write to protest and inform others (Emily) of the hideous treatment these animals really receive.

SAMPLE LETTER (Pls. change around or write your own)

EMAIL Emily at : [email protected]  

(For the subject line): "Animals play key role in success of rodeos" By Emily Baker, 1-4-03

Ms. Emily Baker

Midland Reporter Telegram Correspondent  

Dear Ms. Baker:

How terribly sad that the Harry Vold Rodeo Company has omitted telling you ALL the wrong doing to these poor enslaved animals in their rodeos, and instead absurdly told you they love them, etc.! I'm surprised that, if you witnessed their "sport" that day, that you weren't horrified by the hideous and sadistic treatment of the calves and bulls and horses.

Please be so kind as to read what follows which it has been taken from the rodeos' own publications:

Rodeo/Roping/Wrestling: These animals are caused to suffer severe injuries to: horns, trachea, larynx cartilage, muscle, skin abrasion, internal hemorrhage...more!

RODEO: Bull/horse with a leather belt strongly tightened around his genitals and even more strongly pulled tighter again as the animal comes out to the arena. He bucks in a vain attempt to eliminate his pain! They make him appear "wild" to the public!

CALF ROPING: Tormented baby runs in panic from the persecuting horseman, in full speed (30 miles per hour) just when heís roped around the neck and horns, jerked off his feet, and slammed to the ground with the mightiest force!

STEER WRESTLING: Man leaps from horse to steer and wrestles the animal to the ground by violently twisting and breaking his neck!

TEAM ROPING: One man ropes the baby bullís head or horns, the other his hind legs, violently pulling him in 2 opposite directions!

INSIDE: tail twisting, pulling, kicking, spurring, electric prodding, slapping, jabbing, other, to work the animals into a frenzy, are routinely used to cause great pain to insure they bolt out of the chute as "savages"!!! They are used over and over again in performance, practice, and travel in cramped and filthy vehicles for extended periods of times!

Please print/post my opinion? Thanks so much!

Very truly yours,


Return to Animals in Print 7 January 2003 Issue

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