Horse Health

Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo shocking horses

With so much going on, it’s hard to cover everything, so we’re playing a bit of “catch-up” today with this issue.

Promoters of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo claimed they stopped shocking horses years ago, but SHARK caught them doing it again this past summer.   One newspaper – the Wyoming Tribune Eagle – called out the rodeo.  You can read that article below.


Some cowboys don’t abide by the Code

by D. Reed Eckhardt

Live each day with courage.

Do what has to be done.

Ride for the brand.

Remember that some things aren’t for sale.

Know where to draw the line.

– Excerpts from the “Code of the West”

It gets tiring after a while.

You would think after 41 years in the news business that I would have gotten used to being misled by the subjects of news stories and their public relations flaks.

Still, I wish that just one time they would say, “Hey, we messed up.  We’re fixing things.  It won’t happen again.”

But no, all one gets is the dissembling, and half-truths, and deflections.  Usually, some little guy takes the tumble for the actions of the big boys.

That is how it was this past week at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

CFD officials promised in 2008 that they would no longer shock horses to get them to perform.  The WTE caught them red-handed using Hot-Shots on roughstock and did an article that embarrassed the organization nationally.  Policies were passed.  Rules put in place.

Afterward, rodeo officials begged this newspaper to do stories about how well they tended their animals.  They swore they were as much about the horses, calves, steers and bulls as they were about the money and the cowboys.

We ran those articles, catching holy heck from the animal rights crowd in the process.  But it seemed like the fair thing to do.

Well, bull-oney.

Someone representing CFD got caught again on July 18 shocking saddle broncs and barebacks on their faces during the CINCH Rodeo Shootout.  Videos from SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) clearly show it; there was no way to pass the charge off as the rantings of some out-of-control animal rights group.

(To see the videos, go to http://tiny

How much better it would have been if CFD had just fessed up.  Instead, it went into cover-your-butt mode.

The PR machine could be heard revving up all the way in downtown Cheyenne.  Limit the response to a committee chairman.  Keep the general chairman under wraps.  Spin, spin, spin.

Out came the answer: Blame it on a rogue volunteer who didn’t know the rules.  Say he has been disciplined.  Promise it never will happen again.  Quiet those yahoos in the press.

Story runs in the media; storm over.  Or so it seems.

And then it happened again the next day.

Only this time, it was even more brazen.  Heck, the prongs from the Hot-Shot stuffed in the horse’s face nearly sparkle in the sunlight before the device disappears out of sight.

A review of the videos makes it clear that all of this never was accidental.  Watch for yourselves.  That so-called “volunteer” hides the Hot-Shot behind his hand, uses it, puts it back out of sight and then passes it behind his back to someone else.

If this guy didn’t know the rules, why did he try to hide it?

If he thought it was legal, he simply would have done his thing.  Instead, he sneaks around and has someone (is that someone wearing a contestant’s number?) slip it out of sight as if nothing has happened.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

7 replies »

  1. I don’t go to rodeos anymore and that makes me weird here in Wyoming. If I saw this that idiot would find out first hand how it felt on his face.


  2. This is so sick and absolutely disgusting! When I was little my parents took me to a rodeo in our hometown. The first thing up was a guy was suppose to rope a calf and tie it’s feet as fast as possible, well when he put the noose around the calf’s neck it broke it instantly , killing the calf and was dragging it around the arena. I think rodeo’s should be banned personally, they are incredibly cruel and brutal to the animals and I for one have never been to another rodeo ever again!!!!!


  3. How about that! I applaud Reed Eckhardt for coming out and exposing CFD for what it truly is. Considering how controversial his stance may be and how he most likely accepted the fact that he may receive severe backlash for telling the truth, I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is a true patriot and an example for other journalists.

    I myself have seen enough footage of CFD’s treatment of the animals they claim to love and it disgusts me. Animal welfare should be a moral principle of any animal-related event. It’s clear that if they had a dollar for every single damn they give regarding the well-being of their livestock, they would be broke. It is about time that they take the lives of these animals seriously. They aren’t toys, they were put here on this planet to enrich our lives. We need to respect them.


  4. As far as rodeo cowboys are concerned, we’re the wackos; the fanatical animal-rights-activists everybody jokes about. I prefer to be called an animal welfare advocate, however, and those “cowboys” are nothing but arrogant, died-in-the-wool bullies. It’s sad, really, that the rodeo community hasn’t evolved since the 1800s, but I don’t know that they want to. Sending the circuses into the past has been relatively easy because they’re transient; we just don’t invite or allow them into our towns. But rodeos are different in that they’re traditionally in the same cities- Cheyenne, Calgary, Tulsa, Reno- and the revenue for the cities is huge. Rodeo is steeped in tradition; the American West and cowboys have been synonymous for two centuries. Tradition and profit are two tough nuts to crack, and I just don’t see them buckling under pressure from a few “activists.”

    I’ve detested rodeo since I was little, when I saw them treat calves like rag dolls and punching bags, and watched them spur the dickens out of the poor bareback and saddle broncs, and even terrorize the baby pigs with grease and screaming boys. I’d like nothing more than to see it fade away into the sunset. But it’s going to take a heck of a lot more than a little griping between like-minded animal welfare advocates. The owners of the brahma bulls and bucking horses swear their animals are treated like royalty. After all, they only work eight minutes, and the rest of the time they’re grazing in sweet green pastures.


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