RSPCA calls for a not-so-wild rodeo
'DISAPPOINTED' was the word competitor David Hallman used when he heard the RSPCA wants wild horse racing at this year's Warwick Rodeo off the program.
The wild horse racing competitor said he could not understand the reasoning behind the animal activists' concerns, despite the scrapping of the event at last week's Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo due to RSPCA pressure.
“The rules now dictate that you can't touch the horse if it's lying down on the ground or gets tangled in the rope and ear biting (a tactic to calm the horse) is not allowed,” Mr Hallman said.
“There are up to six officials (who watch over the event) to make sure everything is done by the book.”
Mr Hallman said the horses used in the event were in peak physical condition and were treated better than most farm animals.
“Some of the horses used are from dog sales, so we are saving them from becoming dog meat and they only compete about three times a year.
“These horses are people's livelihood so it's in their best interest to look after them.”
The wild horse racing is a popular drawcard at Australia's Most Famous Rodeo, where untamed horses are let into the arena where a team of three people on foot attempt to lasso an assigned horse, saddle and race it between two barrels.
Warwick Show and Rodeo Society chairman John Wilson said the society had not yet been approached by the RSPCA about the event's inclusion at the October rodeo but was aware of animal activist groups' concerns.
“We are assessing the event's inclusion,” Mr Wilson said.
“Previously, we've had a DPI animal welfare inspector at the event to check everything out.
“It's in our best interest to provide the safest and best entertainment, both for animals and people. We're not trying to hide anything.”
APRA general manager Steve Hilton said Rose City residents would miss the wild horse racing if it was scratched from the program.
“It is not an APRA-sanctioned event (and) Mount Isa and Warwick are the only places that hold the event,” Mr Hilton said.
While the RSPCA remains opposed to the event, the group is not a governing body and can only make recommendations about the event's inclusion in the Warwick Rodeo program.
RSPCA Queensland Media and Community Relations manager Michael Beatty said, “the question of whether or not the event constitutes an offence for which the Inspectorate are able to prosecute under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 is a complicated one and unrelated to RSPCA's position with respect to the event”.
“Advice from veterinarians, behaviourists and legal experts was obtained in relation to wild horse racing and we were confident the event clearly constituted an offence under the (Animal Care and Protection Act 2001) Act. We were prepared to gather the appropriate evidence and proceed with a prosecution,” Mr Beatty said.
The RSPCA is also concerned about the calf roping event.
“There are several important differences between the wild horse racing and calf roping events which may impact on the possibility of a prosecution being successful where calf roping is concerned,” Mr Beatty said.
“This is not to say that we have ruled out the possibility of prosecutions for this event, but simply that we need to conduct further investigation.”