Red Bluff Round-Up taking action as L.A. aims to make bull-riding a thing of the past
by Courtney Kreider
RED BLUFF, Calif. — Bull riding and rodeos all together may be a thing in the past in Southern California. The Board of Animal Services Commissioners in Los Angeles has recommended to the Mayor and City Council that the L.A. Municipal Code be amended to prohibit rodeo events in the City of Los Angeles. The movement has raised concern that this decision could be carried on to the rest of the State.
Each year rodeo events are held at the Staples Center Arena in downtown Los Angeles. In February 2019, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) competed in L.A. for what is known as the Iron Cowboy. It is the first of two stops for America’s extreme sport of bull-riding in the southern part of the State.
The Iron Cowboy is one of four PBR Majors, where top bull riders and bulls compete for a shot at world standings and thousands of dollars in prize money. A rider must stay on his bull for eight seconds to continue in the competition. Any riders bucked off before eight seconds are disqualified.
Bull-riding is one of several rodeo events held at the Staples Center which The Board of Animal Services Commissioners says is harmful to the animals. The commission voted unanimously to recommend to the L.A. Mayor and City Council that the City Council ban rodeos all together.
KRCR obtained the following statement from the commissioner:
"These events can be harmful to the health and well-being of the animals that are used in the rodeo competitions and shows, at times resulting in injuries such as sprains and broken limbs. Rodeos (and rodeo-type events, namely bull riding as well as charreadas/ charrerias) are events during which the institutionalized abuse of steers, calves, bulls and horses (among others) is sanctioned in the guise of competition. These animals suffer strains, sprains, broken limbs and even broken necks for no discernibly legitimate reason. Even the casual observer can see how the roping, wrestling and other actions can be extremely harmful to the animals, and it is surprising more of them are not seriously injured as they are hobbled, jerked and wrenched around during the “competitions.”
The specific events the commission wishes to be banned are: Bull riding, riding broncos, calf riding, wild cow milking, mutton busting, chute dogging, goat tying, greased pig contests, chuck wagons, wild horse races and all animal scrambles.
General Manager of the Red Bluff Round-Up, James Miller, is also a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and says they are actively taking steps to make sure this does not happen. Miller says a decision, if passed, to banning bull-riding or any rodeo sport in Southern California could trickle up north.
A statement from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) reads:
"The PRCA and our members are committed to promoting the proper care and treatment of all livestock in rodeo. The livestock involved in any PRCA-sanctioned events are afforded proper care through a comprehensive, award-winning program and the enforcement of livestock-related rules and regulations. As a sanctioning organization, we have been proactive in establishing standards that govern the care and handling of livestock. We are proud of those standards for treatment of rodeo livestock and our work to encourage other rodeo associations to adopt similar standards of care."
Miller says their goal is to educate more people through events such as the Round-Up, on how they take care of animals and there is no cruelty.
"I think we definitely want to make sure rodeo is in front of people, to keep the western way of life alive, the 'cowboys of California' lifestyle," Miller said. He added, "We'd hate to see something like what they are trying to do in L.A. move throughout the State of California."
Other California cities who have banned rodeo events are San Francisco, Irvine, Napa County and Chino Hills.
The commission argues that rodeos are unethical. They say harmful equipment and tools are used on the animals and many of the animals will go to slaughter after their performance days are over. Miller says this isn't true. He says rodeo animals are more so taken care of then their regular "pets" because they are considered athletes.
"I think the livestock used in the rodeos, whether it's the bucking stock here, these animal athletes or the contestants' animals, this is how we all make a livelihood is out of our animals and we want to make sure they're in the top condition, best shape so they are taken care of very well. They are on a great food program, veterinarians that take care of them once a month so they're definitely in top shape," Miller said rodeo animals are also their livelihood and he knows the way of living well, as his wife, Nellie Williams-Miller, is a world champion barrel racer.
Miller added a typical bucking bull works eight seconds a weekend, a handful of times a year, then they go back to their ranches and are turned out in hundreds of acres.
"With bull-riding, these animals are bred to buck. The stock contractors take a lot of time and money invested to develop these bulls, who are born to buck. They weigh 2,000 pounds. Is a 100 pound bull rider on top of them really hurting them? No, not at all," Miller emphasized.