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Front St.Trails Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press
Saturday April 28, 2001
Ride'em Cowboy!
Crude, rude, and socially unacceptable. Patriotic,
honorable, moral, all-American.
Thatís Clovis rodeo.
By Amy Williams, Clovis News Staff Writer

     Ride-em!CLOVIS -- "I really like cowboys..." the animal rights activist said, "...But they should be arrested for what they do to animals." More people are starting to think about the ethics we are teaching our children with the sport of rodeo. Many communities are joining in the chorus-line. "Cruelty for a buck" read a sign carried by a protester outside the Calgary Stampede Rodeo recently.
     "The next time you think we have to abuse our animals in order to use them..." the rodeo announcer said, ďtake a look at these.Ē
     As he spoke, a gray bucking horse and her foal galloped out from behind the chutes, circled the arena then galloped away through an open gate. They looked healthy.
     Clovis rodeo fans and cowboys say itís impossible that they would abuse the animals they cherish as competitive adversaries and admire for their strength and beauty.
     The two sides are coming from such different thinking about the ethical relationship between humans and animals that they may never reach common ground.
     At its most basic, the annual Spring roundup, branding irons, bawling calves and cows was a way of life in Clovis in its early days. By today's standards of living, about all we have left of the early days is only the sport of rodeo.
    In these times, we are asked to disregard our visceral awareness of suffering by other living beings. So, for readers who still have respect for all living things, we readiy admit that we are saddened to see a scared calf jerked from its feet by a rope flung by a cowboy. We are infllamed when we see a cowboy jump on a calf and wrestle it to the ground, tie three of its legs togetherl. We are rooting for the helpless anmal, face-down in that arena dirt, urine and manure.
     But, shouldn't we be mindful that cowboys are more often injured in rodeo events than are the animals? The cowboys I talked to this week agree with that. But, the cows and broncos in the rodeo pens seem to be saying to me, " If that cowboy doesn't want to get hurt, well he can just decide to sit it out. We animals are forced to endure pain and fight for life!"  It's a truism.
    Worse yet, rodeo cowboys see pain as a kind of honor or spiritual quest requiring cunning, strength, luck, agility and manliness in the struggle to overcome and subdue a powerful beast.
     The pain cowboys and animals inflict upon each other is clearly accepted by most rodeo enthusiasts as a sort of prelim to more important things to follow, important things such as beefsteak, beer and glory.


Letter to the Editor

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