Another summer of mayhem & mendacity on the rodeo circuit

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  July-August 2013:

CALGARY,  RENO––The July 11,  2013 death of a chuckwagon outrider’s horse from officially unknown causes and the death of a steer who suffered a broken neck two days earlier during a steer wrestling event raised the Calgary Stampede animal death count to 62 in the 27 years that fatalities have been tracked.  

The 101st Stampede attracted just over a million spectators,  down 400,000 from the record attendance at the Stampede centennial in 2012.

A nine-year-old horse named Duke who died on June 29,  2013 at the Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove,  New Jersey suffered “a ruptured aneurysm of the aorta blood vessel,”  according to a Cowtown Rodeo press release, citing a post mortem report by Robert Stephens,  DVM.  “No electric prods were used on Duke,”  the release continued.  “Our vet has assured us that this had nothing to do with the rodeo event.”

But an investigator for Showing Animals Respect and Kindness who videotaped the death reported that “A number of bucking horses were electroshocked,”  contrary to seldom enforced Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules,  including Duke,  who “subsequently collapsed, went into convulsions, and died.  SHARK has exposed that horses are shocked at the Cowtown Rodeo since 2008,  but the PRCA would do nothing,”  a SHARK release said. SHARK surveillance of the 2013 rodeo season began at the Big Loop Rodeo in Jordan Valley,  Oregon in late May.    “There were signs prohibiting taking videos,”  wrote witness Kaye Killgore to the Eugene Weekly afterward. “However the announcer said that just applied to ‘people from western Oregon,  animal rights activists, and the media.’  The announcer stated that didn’t apply to the ‘good folks who want to film their relatives or friends.’ There were lots of cameras visible.  He also stated that if the people from western Oregon,  animal rights activists, or the media were observed taking video they would be arrested and escorted off the property. They violently arrested a man about 10 feet from where I was sitting,  took him down in the seats,  and took him to the Malheur County Jail.”

The man was SHARK volunteer Adam Fahnestock,  30,  who was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.  Video of the incident taken by a second SHARK observer showed neither disorderly conduct nor resisting arrest.  

SHARK also videotaped Malheur County Sheriff’s deputies,  one of them allegedly a Big Loop Rodeo board member,  stopping SHARK founder Steve Hindi as he left Jordan Valley for allegedly not showing identification to rodeo personnel. 

“We can find no law allowing a traffic stop for not providing identification on private property,”  Hindi said. “SHARK videotaped the Big Loop Rodeo last year and posted a gruesome video of a bucking horse breaking his leg,”  recalled Scott McIntosh of the Argus Observer,  in Ontario,  Oregon.  

SHARK also returned to the Reno Rodeo,  after videotaping horses being electroshocked at the 2010 and 2011 Reno Rodeos.  

“The Reno Rodeo Association promised that neither the individual shocking horses,  nor the subcontractor who employed him,  would be allowed back,”  Hindi recounted.  “At a subsequent press conference,  SHARK displayed video evidence proving that there were a number of individuals shocking horses.”  The most active of those individuals,  and the stock contractor he works for,   were back in 2013.

But the most graphic documentation of electroshocking in 2013 came not from the SHARK team but from Ellie Lopez-Bowlan,  a prominent local nurse practitioner,  newspaper columnist,  and Hispanic community organizer.   “Ellie Lopez-Bowlan said she and her husband Steve Lopez-Bowlan were on a walkway that passed over the loading chutes where the stock makes its way toward the bucking chute,”  wrote Guy Clifton of the Reno Gazette-Journal.   “There was one horse in a very small stall that just fit his body,”  Ellie Lopez-Bowlan said.  “There were three or four guys around him.  They were using tasers,  they were pinching his skin to make him angry,  they were hitting him,  like slapping him hard.  Then they had a big wire hanger they were poking into his anus.”  

Rodeo personnel denied that any such thing happened,  but Ellie Lopez-Bowlan took four photos of the incident that appeared with the Reno Gazette-Journal coverage.   Clearly shown in all four photos,  the “big wire hanger” appeared to be a standard two-pronged flexible electric cattle prod.

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