COLORADO SPRINGS — More than 300 animals are competing at the 81st Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo, and a lot goes in to making sure they're taken care of throughout the competition.
The welfare of the animals is often a topic of conversation outside of the arena, but there are more than 60 rules and regulations the rodeo has to follow to ensure animals are taken care of and treated.
Kirsten Vold is a livestock supervisor for NFR Open, and says all the animals are treated like professional athletes.
“You're talking about four legged athletes, and it's no different than athletes that are track stars, basketball stars, football stars,” said Vold. “The biggest thing is keeping the animal welfare, and we keep them happy.”
Vold said the animals diets and hydration are the most important priority for the livestock contractors.
“The most important thing when you're traveling and hauling these animals is that you bring them here and we keep them on the same food that they're normally used to,” said Vold.
Jerry Honeycutt is a third generation stock contractor, and he's one of 17 at this rodeo.
“It's a wives tale that rodeo animals are mistreated. I recommend it’s like a trucking company. If you owned a trucking company and you run your trucks without oil, you wouldn't be in the business very long. It’s the same thing with our rodeo livestock,” said Honeycutt.
The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which means there are more than 60 rules athletes must abide by. A few are:
- A veterinarian must be on-site at all PRCA-sanctioned rodeos
- All animals are evaluated for illness or injury prior to the rodeo
- Anyone caught abusing an animal may be disqualified and fined
“There are lots of rules that are established in the rodeo business that for the humane treatment of livestock comes natural to us,” said Honeycutt. “They have to perform at a high capability. So the way we take care of them, the way we feed them, the time they get to spend relaxing before a rodeo after hauling them from the rodeo prior or from the ranch and home. Whatever that is.”
Stock contractors also keep animals as comfortable as possible, make sure they have adequate rest before competition, and make sure they’re in safe and separate pens, especially if an animal doesn’t get along with another. Plus they’re on the lookout for sick or injured animals. If they notice anything, they will notify the vet.
“We have to have a veterinarian on call all the time, and he or she oversees everything. If a horse or animal gets hurt, which it rarely happens, he or she is there to to administer whatever the animal needs.”
News5 also spoke to the livestock program manager with the PRCA. He mentioned there are 400,000 animals who compete every year across the United States and Canada in PRCA-sanctioned rodeos, and less than 1% get injured.
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