Animal activists double down on rodeos after horse dies in Canterbury

Long Lunch 23/10/2018
An Open Barrel Race at the Southland Rodeo in 2012. Getty.

Rodeos are facing another wave of criticism after it was revealed that a horse died at a mid-Canterbury event.

The horse died on Sunday at the Methven Rodeo after its saddle slipped and it became entangled in the girth. The animal was sedated by a vet, but later died.

SAFE and Animal Justice League New Zealand have come out in full swing of the controversial sport, calling for the rural pastime to be banned.

“We’re a nation of animal lovers, and we do not tolerate this,” said Tara Jackson, spokesperson of Animal Justice League.

“You can’t have a bucking horse that’s comfortable and happy.”       

But RadioLIVE’s Lynda Hallinan wasn’t immediately convinced. The Long Lunch host countered Ms Jackson’s claims, asking whether she would extend her argument to riding horses in general.

“That is a completely different topic,” responded Ms Jackson.

SAFE said its organisation was “appalled” over the horse’s death and the lack of details around the incident.

“The cowboys are scrambling to appear as if they care about animal welfare, but it’s impossible to create meaningful rules around what are essentially practises that bully animals,” SAFE’s Marianne Macdonald said in a statement.

New Zealand’s rodeo association said it will investigate the cause of the horse’s death, in addition to getting reports from the event’s Animal Welfare officers and veterinarian.

“We endeavour to minimise every potential risk to stock and competitors and it’s disappointing when a rare accident like this occurs," New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association president Lyal Cocks said.

“I’ve been involved in rodeo, off and on, for more than 40 years and I’ve never seen this happen before,” Mr Cocks said.

The horse’s death comes less than a week after the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) released its rodeo report, which suggested setting up an animal welfare forum to ensure ethical protocol.

The report received divided responses from the sport association, animal activists, and political parties. 

Listen to the full interview with Tara Jackson above.

The Long Lunch with Lynda Hallinan, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.