Does he like his job?


Now here we have the antithesis of my last post (that being Authentic free jumping.)

Horses buck, especially when they don’t want to do something, or to be rid of a rider. Let’s face it, there are some unrideable horses. If they’re lucky and athletic, they make it to the rodeo.  Despite the concept of a rodeo, most of the animals on the ‘staff’, so to speak, are well cared for. The owners, if they are lucky enough to get a superstar, want him to stay sound in order to make money. And the authorities are always on the premises, making sure there’s no monkey business going on. Were that they were more attentive to horse shows where soreing goes on…

A good bucking horse or bull makes a rodeo a lot of money. The top cowboys want the famous horses. The better the animal, the more money he makes.

The horse in this picture is in excellent health. He’s clean, fed, in lovely condition. The tack is clean, the halter (I believe this is called saddle bronc) is large and well padded so that there’s no injury to his nose. No bit in his mouth,and while I believe the cowboy is supposed to have spurs, if he’s wearing them, they’re pretty small. I don’t see any damage to the horse.  The cowboy is about to come off, this gelding has won. He wouldn’t be IN this rodeo arena had he never shown any inclination to buck off a rider. He has the talent, the athleticism, and the intelligence to get that rider off. Not only that, if he does have another go round, it’s only another 8 seconds. Not bad for 16 seconds of work.

But is he doing this because he WANTS to, or because he’s being forced to?

Look where that back cinch is. It’s sheepskin covered, but it is still pressing his genitals.

I don’t claim to be an expert on rodeos and no thank you, if you want to flame me for my opinions on them, take your opinions elsewhere. I don’t want to argue the merits of rodeos. I’m merely discussing the horse. But from the few I’ve seen, I believe that at the last second, as the chute gate opens, someone is giving that back girth one hell of a yank. And (don’t quote me), I have seen a second person stabbing the horse with a hotshot.

This incites the horse to jump out and buck until the rider comes off. Sometimes the cinch releases all on its own. If it doesn’t the horse continues running and bucking until a catchrider gallops up and grabs him by the halter and leads him to where the cinch can be removed.

It’s a testimony, blunt as a hammer, as to whether the horse is doing this all on his own, or if the cinch and the hotshot are ‘added inducements’ or ‘performance enhancers.”

I prefer to believe the latter. Perhaps back in the old days when cowboys really rode the range on rank ol mustangs that were never truly tamed or domesticated…perhaps they didn’t need the cinch. But these days, the vast majority of horses are domesticated, and never see a wild day on BLM land in their life. I knew a Montanan named Tom Breen (great guy to work for, by the way) who intended on raising bucking stock (bulls and horses) for the rodeo trade. If he did, and was successful, he probably retired rich. He had a ranch in Cut Bank, Montana, and while that is in ranch country, it’s not wild land.

It would be interesting to see if this lovely chestnut would buck as hard without the cinch.

I bet he wouldn’t. There’s a lot of breediness about his head. He’s no boneheaded mustang, although his feet look to be hard as rocks, and that comes from running barefoot.

This, then, is possibly a case where the horse IS being forced to do something. Bucking a predator off one’s equine back is a very natural act, though, and probably, this horse showed the inclination from an early age.

But I bet he’s smart enough and gentle enough that he wouldn’t buck hard enough to make money on or from. That’s the trick. The vast majority of rodeo broncs never try to savage the rider once he’s off, unlike the bulls.  The horse, once the rider if off, heads for the chute to go back to bed. The bulls are bloody dangerous, and one, named “Bodacious”, was retired because he was just too dangerous to ride. Of the 135 riders who attempted to ride him, only 8 made it to the whistle. He had a knack of throwing the rider forward and catching him in the face with his big wooly head.

Is it a good life? Well, I dunno. He moves around a lot, from town to town. He has to work three times, maybe, a day, for a total of 24 seconds. He has to endure a little bit of discomfort, and gets to take it out on the guy on his back. He’s smart enough to know that the harder he works in those few seconds, the sooner he gets to go back to the feed tub. And I would be surprised if, in some way, he didn’t enjoy it. I had a horse who bucked me off at the first opportunity and was rewarded by getting rid of me and being untacked and fed upon reaching the barn. I’ve seen Creek buck, and while it wasn’t this violent, he seemed to enjoy a couple of crowhops.

So I believe I’ve talked myself into believing that he DOES enjoy it. There’s no anger in his face, no pain, no fear…he’s competing against the man, and in this case, winning.

However, I don’t like it. Sorry, rodeo fans. I just don’t like to see a horse treated like this. Put him out there with no cinch and no hotshot, and we’ll see.


About subodai213

Retired U.N.C.L.E agent. Living in Laurasia.
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