Minnesota Should Ban Cruel Rodeo Events

Posted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on April 26, 2012

Steer tailing and horse tripping are tortuous events that have been banned in California and at least eight other states, according to a recent report by the Star Tribune, a local Minnesota newspaper. But, unfortunately, both events are legal in Minnesota, and they have found their way into local culture, especially in rural Dakota County. And this is causing much consternation among local animal humane officials and activists.

The Star Tribune describes horse tripping as an activity where a rider ropes the front legs of a galloping horse and pulls him or her down. Steer tailing, also called coleo or tail spinning, involves dragging animals down by their tails. Apparently about a dozen Mexican-style rodeos were held in several Dakota County locations last summer, mostly in the township of Vermillion.

Now the Vermillion town board has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the rodeos unless a horse show permit is obtained. The Star Tribune reported that the township’s suit in Dakota County District Court “describes tail spinning as a sporting competition ‘with contestants on horseback riding alongside running cattle, and the contestants grabbing hold of and pulling on the cattle’s tail while attempting to cause the cattle to fall to the ground and roll over.'” Sporting event? Does the town board really think that requiring the rodeos to obtain a horse show permit is going to change anything, or prevent any animal cruelty? What exactly do they seek to accomplish? It is obvious that the suit does not go far enough because the activities need to be prohibited, not “permitted.”

Keith Streff, senior humane officer for the Animal Humane Society, one of Minnesota’s two animal welfare enforcement officers, has stated that “Tail spinning is likely to injure a steer… 400- to 600-pound animals toppled while running near full speed have a high degree of probability they will be injured … they are not made to go down at that speed." Streff went on to say that if spinning consistently resulted in injury or death, that could be construed as criminally cruel, and that his office would look into that if a complaint were filed. But Streff also noted that it is very difficult to prove rodeo events are criminal unless there is proof that an animal has been killed or injured.

Raul Pliego, organizer of the Vermillion rodeos, said in his written response to the township suit that "spinning at his gatherings was a ‘game [that] was played for fun and the entertainment of those in attendance and not for money or reward.’" That does not change the fact that animals are being severely injured at the events. Pliego’s attorney has even characterized his client’s response to the suit as showing a pattern of “racist behavior by the neighbors that prevents [the Pliegos] from having family events and enjoying the use of their property."

It is time for the Minnesota State Legislature to step up and ban these rodeo activities. They are animal cruelty, plain and simple.

9 thoughts on “Minnesota Should Ban Cruel Rodeo Events

  1. Let me remind him (since he is going to use the race card) that the racist lynchings were considered entertainment. The acute trauma and unbearable suffering of the victims was a form of entertainment for crowds. The cries for mercy were ignored and the many who traveled to witness the suffering could not be swayed to see the horror in it. They were having fun. If we take his argument to its logical extreme, lynching should be allowed because it was fun for a segment of people because, after all, it is entertainment. The only distinction between what he and his family does and lynchings is that human beings were victimized because they were judged on their skin color, not animals, who are in a worse situation because they are not human and they cannot speak for themselves.
    I hope that Minnesota indeed does take action. We lose our humanity when we fail to act against such as this.

  2. Elise Margulis says:

    Disgusting & cruel. Have some compassion!!

  3. Susan Pateracki says:

    I think Minnesota needs a reality check. It isn’t OK to injure and mame horses for the fun of it. That isn’t why horses are here. Just to give amusement for people in Minnesota is a pretty selfish reason. I guess we have to rescue all the horses in that state since they just don’t have the logic to tell them that it is mean.

  4. karen l. says:

    This seems so cruel & barbaric…makes me sorry to say I loved living in Minnesota.. Never heard any of this rotten stuff going on!

  5. patti hughes says:

    …start a petition, please…

  6. Mary Ann Bernardi says:

    What kind of people are we if we can torture wonderful animals like this? Minnesota should be ashamed. To view cruelty and suffering as entertainment is beyond the pale. It debases humankind.

  7. Traci says:

    Is there a petition for this????

  8. While ALDF does not have an official petition for this, we encourage Minnesota residents to contact their elected officials and urge them to ban this cruel event. You can find your elected officials here: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=346

  9. Denise Jenkins says:

    When is cruelty ever OK in the name of fun? Never not to any of Gods creatures.

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