I don’t normally write straight to someone but, Pamela Anderson, this is straight to you! When I pick up my newspaper and read that you are commenting on the Calgary Stampede – The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – my ears go up. Then, when I find you’ve said, “I’m not a fan. I never have been. I think it is very cruel,” my BP goes up! And not in a good way. How, Pam, is the Stampede cruel? Seriously, I’m dying to know. Because, while I think you are very intelligent and proudly Canadian, you are way off base on this one.
I have been a rodeo fan for about thirty years. I produced the Budweiser Pro Rodeo Tour for CBC Network Sports in 1989, which included the Calgary Stampede. I produced the Canadian Finals Rodeo for television throughout the decade of the 1980s. I have been to rodeos in Cloverdale, B.C., Brandon, Manitoba and Swift Current, Saskatchewan. And I have been to the Calgary Stampede’s rodeo about two dozen times.
I understand that 2010 has been a trying year at the Stampede, with six horses having met their end during this year’s event. Most died during the chuckwagon races, with one saddlebronc going down in the junior event. No one is ever going to challenge the fact that these are hazardous sports. But I have witnessed many more cowboys being hurt than I have stock being injured. In fact, in all my years at rodeos, I have only ever seen one calf not jump up and run away. That came in Brandon’s Keystone Centre during the calf roping (now called tie-down roping) event.
Pam, here’s where I take issue with your comments. You refer to the Calgary Stampede as “cruel.” By definition, cruel means “disposed to inflict pain or suffering : devoid of humane feelings.” I defy you to find a single cowboy or chuckwagon driver or barrel racer who doesn’t absolutely love the animals they work with. The animals involved in rodeo are treated like kings and queens – especially the bucking stock. Every bronc rider or bareback rider lives the symbiotic relationship between themselves and the stock they’ve drawn that day.
Today, these animals are bred to buck. They aren’t simply roped off the open range and crammed into the back of a trailer on its way to the rodeo. Bucking is in their blood and they love doing it. The Stampede’s “Born to Buck” breeding program began in 1961. The stock, in many cases, have become the stars. Those close to rodeo will tell you that many of the bareback horses and saddlebroncs appear to clearly understand what their role is in the rodeo – and are proud to perform it. If you want to target animal abuse, Pam, why not look at places that keep killer whales enclosed simply so they can perform on cue? Killer whales are built to swim and live and eat in the wild – not be tanked up at Sea World.
Bulls are bred to buck by the rodeo establishment. Horses are built to run…and that’s exactly what they do at the rodeo. Why aren’t you targeting the Kentucky Derby, Pam? None of the horses at the Calgary Stampede are pumped full of lasix. Lasix is used to prevent thoroughbred and standardbred race horses from bleeding through the nose during races. Clearly, horses are being forced to run long distances when they are known to bleed internally from it.
That sounds a hell of a lot more cruel than feeding horses and bulls all they ever want, giving them the best vet care available and asking them to work eight seconds every two or three days.
Come on, Pam. Know what you are talking about before opening that famous mouth of yours.