Animal Extremist Legislator Rosenthal Targets Rodeo in New York State


Animal Extremist New York Legislator Proposes Anti-Rodeo Bill

In August 2019, New York assembly member, Linda Rosenthal (D), proposed sadly misguided legislation that targets the sport of rodeo in New York. This bill, A08554, falls in line with numerous other animal extremist bills she has supported over the years. The anti-rodeo bill has recently come to the forefront as Madison Square Garden prepares to host the elite professional Rodeo New York event, scheduled to be held in June.

Rosenthal Has No Experience With Livestock

Rosenthal is a life-long resident of New York City, with minimal-- if any—real world, hands on experience with animals, least of all the livestock involved in rodeo. A vegetarian, Rosenthal took office in 2006, and has sponsored numerous pieces of legislation over the years that demonstrate her animal extremist-based agenda, few of which have passed. Some examples are bills that:
• Prohibit horse drawn carriages in New York City
• Ban of the sale or transfer of fur apparel
• Ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores
• Ban the declawing of cats
• Prohibit animal hatching projects in schools
• Assign advocates to represent animals in the courtroom
• Require outside animal pens or cages to be 4 times the height and length of the animal
• Limit how long, and during which times of day, companion animals can be outside
• Designate rescue cats as New York’s official state cat
• Establish an animal law task force
• Ban possession of parts and products of certain species African wildlife, even if they were legally hunted and harvested
• Ban the raising of pheasants for sport

Anti-Rodeo Bill is The Latest Animal Extremist Legislation by Rosenthal

Rosenthal’s anti-rodeo bill, A08554, would ban the event of calf roping, as well as flank straps or ropes used on bucking stock, electric prods, and certain types of spurs. The focus on these items comes strictly from Rosenthal’s lack of experience and animal extremist ideology, and has no basis in sound animal science or standard humane livestock handling protocol. She is not truly concerned with animal welfare because she and her cronies view any use of animals as akin to slavery and abuse.

The bill is written with misleading and outright false information straight out of the animal extremist playbook. The text of the bill can be read here.

Co-Sponsors are a Familiar Cast of Characters

Co-sponsors of the bill include assembly members Quart, Mosley, Colton, Blake, D'Urso, Williams, Gottfried, Paulin, and Ortiz. The bill is also supported by a typical line-up of extremist groups, with SHARK and the New York based Horseracing Wrongs among them.

These groups often share resources and membership as they protest all types of animal enterprise and fabricate fundraising opportunities to further their reach. Some of their members are “serial protestors” that bizarrely go by different names depending on the type of event they are protesting.

SHARK promotes veganism and opposes all manner of animal use, with current campaigns against rodeo, hunting and wildlife management, and animals in captivity.

They are known to collaborate with such extremist groups as Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), whose members frequently trespass to invade farms and steal animals in the name of “open rescue.” In fact, the overall “animal liberation movement” has, in the past, been declared the number one domestic terrorist threat in America by the FBI. The current focus on the sport of rodeo is just another attack on an animal enterprise that these groups can add to their lists.

Myths Spread by Animal Extremist Groups Addressed

The best way we can rip the rug out from under these groups is to educate the public about the sport of rodeo and the care these animals receive. While it doesn’t matter to animal extremists how well rodeo livestock are cared for, it does matter to true animal lovers.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) stock contractor Ike Sankey stated: “My reason for being in the business is not necessarily to make money. There are a lot of other things I could be doing, but I enjoy being around these horses and bulls. That’s why I’m in this business.”

Here are some typical and sometimes humorous myths spread by animal extremist groups:


Animals regularly suffer physical trauma such as broken limbs, torn ligaments, and pulled muscles, and do not receive proper veterinary care.


Animal Well-being Is Central to Rodeo

It is in the best interest of everyone involved in rodeo that the animals are exceptionally well taken care of. Animals only perform well when they are healthy, and both stock contractors and contestants rely on the animals being in good condition—it’s how they make their livings. Not only do stock contractors have incredible amounts of time and money invested in their animals, but contractors and contestants alike have a deep fondness and respect for the animal athletes. There are rules in place at all levels of rodeo competition to ensure that the animals are healthy and well cared for in all aspects. In fact, the PRCA has over 60 rules in place that cover animal well-being, with highly trained judges tasked with enforcing them. Even so, PRCA judges have stated that mistreatment of animals is virtually non-existent.

Minimal Injuries

The overall rate of animal injury in professional events is statistically negligible-- less than five hundredths of one percent (0.00046). These findings are based on a survey involving 60,244 animal exposures in 148 rodeo performances and 70 sections of slack resulting in only 28 injuries. The survey included bulls, horses, and the steers and calves used for roping, and serves to demonstrate that the danger to rodeo animals is truly minimal.

Veterinarian On Site

There is always a designated veterinarian either on site or on call assigned to professional events. In the rare event that there appears to be a sick or injured animal at an event, the veterinarian is notified immediately. Health papers are also required on all animals arriving at an event. They are inspected as they are unloaded prior to competition. Animals that are sick or injured in any way are not allowed to perform.


Calf roping, or tie-down roping, is inherently cruel and kills numerous calves.


Rodeo’s calf-roping event closely reenacts a practice utilized regularly on cattle ranches to catch and administer veterinary care to calves. Ranch owners rely on the health and well-being of their stock to make a living, and so doctoring animals and keeping them in good health is vital to an operation’s survival. Knowingly doing something that would cause real, lasting harm to an animal is not only abhorrent to those who love and raise them, but it would hurt the operation’s bottom line.

Strict Rules are In Place for Tie-Down Roping

Like all rodeo events, tie down roping has specific rules. In the PRCA, the “no-jerk down” rule requires that calves be caught in such a manner that they are not jerked off all four feet and hit the ground as a result. If this happens, the contestant is disqualified.

Roping Stock Have Weight Limits, so Are Only Used for a Limited Time

In professional events, the weight range for calves in the tie-down roping is between 220 and 280 pounds. Calves grow very quickly, usually several pounds per day. This means that they are only roped for a brief span of time, and when they’ve passed the weight limit, will usually be shipped to a feed lot to be fed and finished out just as other beef calves are. Female animals can also be added to a breeding herd when they come of age.

“I personally have not seen a serious neck injury to a tie-down roping calf in my 16 years as attending veterinarian at Tucson’s La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros and other Arizona rodeos,” said Dr. Eddie Taylor.


Animals are routinely subjected to tools of torment such as “tight flank straps, spurs, and electric prods” and are otherwise abused as they are forced to perform.


Dr. Taylor stated, “These are not animals who are forced to buck and perform in the arena. In fact, if a flank strap is drawn so tight as to be uncomfortable, the horses and bulls will likely cease to buck or not perform to the best of their ability. The best rodeo livestock are those with a natural inclination to buck for the purpose of unseating a rider.”

Flank Straps Work As Signals

Flank straps simply work as signals for the animals to buck, and are not tightened any more than a person would tighten a belt on themselves. In bull riding, a soft 5/8 inch cotton rope goes around the bull’s flank, and in bareback and saddle bronc events, the flank strap is lined with fleece or Neoprene. The straps do not touch the genitals; in fact, many top bucking horses are mares. As with any training device, it takes time to accustom animals to it and its meaning. Not all animals will buck, even when wearing a flank strap. This shows that it is not the flank strap that causes bucking.

The PRCA website states: “Bucking animals are born, not made, and a flank strap cannot magically turn a placid animal into a championship bucker. When placed on an animal naturally inclined to buck, the flank strap simply augments the bucking action, encouraging a bucking bronc or bull to kick high with its back feet.”

The fact is that if the ropes or straps were too tight, the bulls and broncs couldn’t buck. In the early days of veterinary medicine, before tranquilizers became available, a device called a gird strap was used to immobilize large animals for treatment. The gird strap was placed in the same location as the flank strap, and tightened until the animal was unable to move.

Dr. Ben Espy of San Antonio TX has served as the required on-site veterinarian at rodeos, and stated: “The flank strap is never intended to cause any discomfort to the animal, nor have I ever seen any evidence of injury to a bucking animal caused by this strap.”

“The flank straps cause absolutely no harm to the horses or cattle,” said Nebraska veterinarian Dr. Jim Furman.

Spurs Do Not Cut or Scratch

In the roughstock (bucking animal) events, the purpose of spurs varies, but in all cases, spurs are required to be dull. In bull riding, the spurs worn by contestants are required to have loosely locked rowels (the wheel-like part of the spur that comes into contact with the animal). Bull riders’ spurs help them to grip the bull’s loose hide and stay in place for the required 8 seconds. In the bareback riding, the rowels must be dull and loose, in order to roll across the horse’s hide. In both cases, the spurs do not cut or scratch the animal’s hides, which are much thicker than a human’s skin. In fact, human skin is 1-2 mm thick, while a horse’s is 5mm and a bull’s is 7mm.

Cattle Prods Run on Flashlight Batteries

Cattle prods were developed by the cattle industry to move livestock. Use of the prod has become one of the most universally accepted and humane methods of herding animals on ranches, in veterinary clinics, and, on occasion, at rodeos. Use of prods is strictly regulated. Professional rodeo rules state that they must be used as little as possible, and that the animal be touched only on the hip or shoulder area.
Cattle prods are powered by D sized flashlight batteries, producing 5,000 to 6,000 volts of electricity but virtually no amperage. It is amperage causes electric burns, so cattle prods cause a mild zap, but no injury.
“Sometimes it is necessary to touch a animal with an electric stock prod to get it to go where you want it,” said Dr. Furman. “The prod is not a damaging stimulant, but rather an effective way to move the animals where they need to be in a timely fashion. Cattle prods are what I would call humane encouragement.”

Dr. Jeff Hall, DVM, was quoted as saying: “An electric prod provides a low current shock to induce the movement of the animals. This type of prod does not harm the animals, as it provides a mild electrical shock sensation that leaves no prolonged effects. In working with cattle for more than 30 years, I personally have been shocked with this type of device on several occasions. This type of shock was annoying but produced no lasting or harmful effects.” Often times, when cattle prods are used, the animal is not even touched, the metal panels are touched creating a noise that encourages the animals to move.  


Bucking bulls and horses are tame animals that must be “provoked into battle” and are forced to perform over and over.


Bucking Genetics Play A Key Role

Bulls and broncs, especially in the upper levels of competition, are specially bred for competition. The success of bucking stock breeding programs around the world have proven that genetics are the main factor in determining an animal’s desire and ability to buck. For example, the American Bucking Bull is now a recognized breed of cattle, with over 200,000 animals with bucking bull genetics registered in its database.
“It’s part of them,” said Ike Sankey of Sankey Rodeos in Joliet, Mont. “Their mother bucked; their daddy bucked. They like people, but they like to buck. The horses and bulls enjoy what they’re doing, but if you hurt them, they won’t do it anymore.”

PRCA stock contractor Skip Beeler explained, “You can teach them to handle, load into the truck, stand in the chutes so they don’t hurt themselves, but nobody can train a horse or bull to buck. They’ve got to have it in them! I’d say it’s about 75 percent breeding, 10 percent luck, and 15 percent hard work to teach them the skills they need so you can handle them.”

Rodeo Animals Only Perform A Few Minutes In A Year’s Time

A qualified ride is 8 seconds, and so in a year’s time, the total time that bucking animals perform is literally only minutes. The actual time of use for roping animals in the rodeo arena is similar. Between performances all animals are well cared for in order to keep them in top condition.


Rodeo animals travel constantly in cramped, double-deck trailers or pens. The trailers are frequently inadequately ventilated, and the animals are often fed and watered erratically.


Animal Welfare is Top Priority and The Best Care is Provided

Rodeo livestock is given the absolute best care possible at events and at home. Performing animals that are injured, stressed, or depressed aren’t able to do their jobs as well, and providing them safe, humane transport is a key component in keeping them in the best possible condition.

Strict Travel Regulations and Accommodations

Rodeo animals are protected both by general livestock transport laws as well as by rules held by most rodeo associations. In the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), for example, bulls are only allowed to travel a maximum of 10 hours per day, in specially designed livestock trailers with ample space. After 10 hours, the bulls are rested for 12-14 hours. Bulls most often stand in 6-10 inches of sawdust shavings during transport for their comfort.

In fact, the PBR had an event in Hawaii, and had the option to ship bulls there via boat which would have taken seven days, but also cost considerably less than other alternatives. Instead, the PBR determined that the welfare of the animals would be compromised during such a journey, therefore it invested nearly $350,000, compared to less than $100,000 if shipped by sea, to fly the necessary bulls to Hawaii for the event in special, customized containers. 


Rodeo animals are seen as expendable, and live rather short lives. Almost all rodeo animals end up in the slaughterhouse.


Bucking Stock is Valuable and Becomes Breeding Stock when Retired

The vast majority of bucking stock are loved and respected by their owners, for being the incredible animal athletes that they are. In the upper levels of competition, many broncs and bulls are worth at least $10,000, with a few even boasting values of more than $500,000. An animal’s value increases when he becomes a proven sire of other quality bucking stock. The owner of the top bull, Bushwacker, was once offered $1 million for him; and the famed bucking horse Nightjacket was sold for $200,000.

Bucking animals perform during the prime of their lives and are most always retired to live out their days. Bucking bulls often live well into their teens, and broncs usually live well into their 20s, which are considered geriatric ages for both species.

Rodeo Animals Earn Great Retirements

“We like to keep our horses around forever,” said stock contractor Harry Vold. “It’s like an old folks home, and it can get costly, but they’ve earned their keep.”

Legendary rodeo contestant, Ty Murray, competed in all three roughstock events. He purchased a number of high caliber bucking horses that he’d ridden during his competition days, for the sole reason of wanting to be the one to care for them in their retirement. Those that have lived out their days on his Texas ranch are buried there, with custom-made grave markers.

Realities of Rodeo

Rodeo is many things. It’s the stock contractors who invest their lives into breeding, raising, and maintaining quality animals. It’s the contestants that travel sometimes thousands of miles and pay thousands of dollars in entry fees to compete, and still tip their hats to the animal athlete that just bested them in the arena. It’s the dedicated fans from all walks of life that might watch rodeos on TV, or attend them come rain or shine. The one thing that all of these share in common is admiration, respect, and love for the animals that make the sport of rodeo possible. When the realities of rodeo, with the people and animals involved, are brought to light, it becomes very obvious that legislation like Rosenthal’s is simply another attempt by the animal extremist movement to sever the long-standing human/animal connection.



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