Why Bull Riding is Cruel

bull-riding bull

Bull riding is the “sport” where a person attempts to stay on a bucking bull for 8 seconds. The rider is awarded points for how many times the bull bucks and how long they last riding them.

Why are bulls angry?

Bulls are not a naturally angry or aggressive creature. Being prey animals they enjoy being part of a herd, as this helps them feel safe. They are also incredibly social and studies have found that they can remember up to 70 individuals and have a social hierarchy [1]. They have an inherent fear of unfamiliar objects, situations, smells, sudden movements, and noises, and are scared in situations where they are solitary or isolated [2 PDF].

A bull appears aggressive because the event plays on their fears. Bucking is often a bulls’ instinctive response to fear, discomfort, and pain*. Other common signs of stress and fear in bulls are shown through their facial expressions, excessive drooling of saliva, an open mouth, and flared nostrils. Some bulls even charge at the riders or the staff inside the arena, highlighting their distress.

*Not every bull is “suitable” for bull riding. This industry requires bulls that respond to the torment, by bucking.

Isolation

Isolating a herd or prey animal creates fear and can result in aggression. The bulls are transported around Australia, meaning they are kept in an unnatural setting away from their herd. Before their event, they are forced into a chute, where they are isolated from the other bulls. As the gate opens, they are released into the arena, where they are alone, surrounded by more people. As they buck, they look for an escape route, but are trapped. The stressful situation causes them to become more aggressive – just as they would if they were being attacked by a predator.

bull trying to escape chute
Bull trying to escape the chute

Physical Abuse

The bulls are tormented to provoke them into being “aggressive”. Whilst in the chute, the bulls are shocked with electric prodders, jabbed with spurs, kicked and hit, have their tails twisted and pulled, and fingers shoved up their nose [4]. The physical abuse causes the bulls to respond aggressively. In addition to this, they have a flank strap tied tightly around their sensitive belly (not genitals) and a rider on their back. As the gate opens, the bull “bucks” in an attempt to dislodge the rider and remove the uncomfortable flank strap. Once again, their reaction to being ridden and abused is the same as if they were being attacked by a predator. It is not uncommon to see bulls hurl themselves into solid objects in an attempt to rid the rider and escape the situation.

Psychological abuse

The industry claims that they care about the welfare of the bulls and treat their animals with respect. This is a blatant lie. The whole premise of the bull riding event goes against the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle. They state that:

“Cattle should be handled quietly and calmly, taking into account their flight zone and natural herding instinct to minimise stress during handling.”

Standards and Guidelines for Cattle [5]

If you have ever attended a rodeo or bull riding event, you would know that there is nothing quiet or calm about these events. From the screaming crowds and loud music to the physical abuse, isolation, and bright lights, the entire situation incredibly scary for the bulls.

Injuries

Bulls can sustain an injury before, during and after the event. The bulls weigh between 700-1,200kgs. Vigorous bucking can cause muscle soreness or tears, abrasions, bruises, and broken bones, and can result in being killed. In NSW, it is not required to have a veterinarian on-site, meaning that some bulls have been forced to walk out of the arena and are loaded onto a truck, to be transported elsewhere to be euthanised [6]. Although the industry claims life-threatening injuries as uncommon*, any event that risks an animals life and subjects them to unnecessary stress has no place in society.

*There is no independent collation and review of injury records, making it impossible to know just how prevalent injuries are.

Bull injured during bull riding
Bull falls during rodeo in Victoria.

What you can do.

It is evident that bull riding events cause unnecessary stress and suffering for the animals involved. Bulls communicate with us through their body language and actions. You can see them try to escape the chutes, calling out for help, running headfirst into the walls, and laying down in an attempt to surrender. These actions clearly show that bulls do not want to be involved in the “sport”. If they did, we wouldn’t need the flank straps, spurs, or electric prodders. Yet, they are still forcing them to participate against their will for the sole purpose of entertaining people.

This is where you can help, by:

  1. Signing a petition, demanding a ban on rodeos in NSW;
  2. Protest rodeo events: the PBR Bull Riding Event in Sydney;
  3. Writing to your local council asking them to support a ban on rodeo events;
  4. Sharing this information with others.
  5. Pledging to never support an event that exploits animals.
Fadjen, a bull with his carer showing the world bulls aren’t aggressive creatures [7]

3 Comments

  1. There is no place in this world for the cruelty of this so called “entertainment”!
    This has to stop!

  2. STOP THIS VILE ABUSE ON BULLS, DON’T THESE POOR CREATURES ENDURE ENOUGH PAIN IN THEIR LIVES, WITHOUT THESE BOGAN IDIOTS ABUSING THEM FURTHER. THIS GOES AGAINST ANYONE DECENT WHO CARES ABOUT ALL LIVING CREATURES, WE ARE NOT LIVING IN THE DARK AGES, WHAT MESSAGE DOES THIS BRING TO CHILDREN WHO SHOULD BE TAUGHT TO RESPECT ALL LIVING CREATURES!
    THESE SORTS OF PEOPLE WHO USE AND ABUSE GODS CREATURES TO MAKE MONEY IS DISPICABLE AND THE LAW OF THIS LAND SHOULD STOP THIS FROM EVER GOING ON. ALSO CALF ROPING, HOW CAN ANYONE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN TO BABIES, IF ANYONE DID THIS TO DOGS THERE WOULD BE UPROAR! AGAIN HOW CAN THE LAW ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN, THEY ARE PROMOTING CRUELTY TO ANIMALS! BAN THIS NOW!

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