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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday Cardinal Couple -- Common Myths About Bull Riding


-No bull about bullriding here...

-Cardinal Caravan in Louisville today!

-A busy fifteen minutes

(CARDINAL COUPLE writer Mark "The Commish" Schneider continues his look at the PBR today. We feature an article that dispels several myths about Bull riding and the participants. We've got him scheduled next to investigate Area 54, Elvis's death and why the Cubs are the worst team in baseball. The "Commish" is on top of it!)

Most people love animals.  Dogs, Cats, Horses, and even BULLS.  However, sometimes animal rights groups seem to go too far.  Nothing wrong with wanting to protect animals from cruelty.  I'm all for that.  But to distribute false information without getting all the facts in order to advance their cause is another story.  At first glance when watching a Bull Riding event some may think, "How cruel" or  "The animals are being hurt."  (Watch more closely and more often than not the riders are the ones getting hurt).  Maybe there should be an organization called AETH. ("Animals for the Ethical Treatment of Humans").  All kidding aside:

PETA has been touting two myths about Bull Riding/Rodeos in general.

Myth #1

"Electric prods, spurs, and bucking straps are used to irritate and enrage animals used in rodeos. Before entering the ring, cows and horses are often prodded with an electrical "hotshot" so that the pain will rile them."

This is simply not true.  Especially in the PBR. That is not to say it has never happened in a small town rodeo, but as far as the PBR?  I do not think so.

During countless events broadcasted on TV the cameras are directly in the chutes.  Every move anyone makes is shown up close.  The bulls are not coerced into bucking.  It is simply what they like to do.  A bull bucks because it is in their blood. Just as race horses are "born to run", bucking bulls are "born to buck".

As far as the spurs hurting the animal, the fact is the spurs are "dulled" and are not sharp.  Also, a bulls skin is 7 times thicker than a humans and when a bull is "spurred",  it does not harm the animal.  No marks are left and no blood is drawn. Does one think the owner of a bull worth $35,000 or more (A bull named Little Yellow Jacket was worth $150,000) would allow a cowboy to "spur" it if he thought for one moment it would harm it? Owning and raising bucking bulls is an expensive proposition. Just like our pets, a stock contractor treats every bull like one of his family.  For example, when World Champion bull MOSSYOAK MUDSLINGER recently died, his owner H.D.Page had this to say: "He's irreplaceable, there's no doubt about it.  I missed him a bunch when I had to retire him from the arena, and now I'm going to miss him even more as a sire. He was part of our family. He's done more for our family than any person."

Myth #2

"The flank (or "bucking") strap is tightly cinched around the animals' abdomens, causing them to buck vigorously in an attempt to escape the pain. The flank strap can cause open wounds and burns when the hair is rubbed off and the skin is chafed raw. Former animal control officers have found burrs and other irritants placed under the flank strap."

Again--not in the PBR. The flank strap is tied loosely around the flank, usually by the stock contractor/owner. Again, if this hurt the bull, would he be doing this? As a matter of fact there are times it will fall off during the ride.  The flank strap is a rope made out of cotton which is tied around the bull's flank. Contrary to popular belief, the flank strap is not tied around the bull's testicles. Without being too graphic--this is a family friendly website--this point must be made:  If a rope is tied around the bulls testicles, I do not think it would encourage him to buck. As one stock contractor said," What would a human do if it was tied around theirs?"  I don't think it would encourage "bucking".  I believe one would see a human lying on the ground crying in a fetal position.  And when a bull is bucking, one can actually see that the strap is nowhere near or tied around it's "privates".  This rope is to encourage the bull to use its hind legs more in a bucking motion.  If tied too tight, the bull would not buck very well.  It has to be loose to cause the bull to want to buck it off.  Sometimes the strap falls off during a ride. When that happens, the bull will usually quit bucking. 

Former CEO of the PBR Randy Benard (now CEO of The INDY Racing League) had this to say about Animal Welfare and the PBR:

"In the 1970s and '80s, PETA did a pretty good job of informing people that bull riding hurt bulls in all kinds of different ways. All those are completely false. We encourage and welcome any animal rights groups to come in and look at how we treat our animals. It's very important to the sport and to the industry that our animals are taken good care of. The other thing is, people are so surprised when they come to an event and see the type of fan base that's there. It's so much more than a western sport."

Here are the PBR's Animal Welfare Facts:

Bulls receive 25-30 lbs of a special blend of mixed grain per day. Blend varies depending on the bull’s needs and the stock contractor.

Bulls receive 20 lbs of Alfalfa or Alfalfa-grass blend per day.

Bulls receive a B-12 complex vitamin shot every two weeks.

Bulls receive a health inspection any time they have to cross state lines.

Bulls are only allowed to travel a maximum of 8 hours per day. After 10 hours, the bulls are rested for 12-14 hours.

Bulls are standing in 6-10 inches of sawdust shavings during transport.

Each stock contractor has a local veterinarian on call for their bulls.

To be fair, as with any sport there are injuries.  This includes the bulls.

According to the PBR these are the facts about bull injuries:

There are approximately 60 bulls at a one-day event, 90 bulls at a two-day event and 110 bulls at a three-day event. A bull bucks only one time per day and no more than two times at a typical event. Approximately 30-40 of the bulls at a typical two-day event will buck only once at that event.

One bull will suffer a minor injury (muscle pull, scratch) every 8 events or 786 outs.

Bulls that are determined to have an injury are not allowed to compete again until fully recovered, which is generally one to four weeks.

One bull will suffer a career-ending injury every 100 events or 9,833 outs.

Bulls that suffer a career-ending injury are retired to stud and live the balance of their lives as healthy, fully capable breeding bulls. Their injuries do not impede the quality of life or ability to function, but do prevent them from competing at the PBR level as a bucking athlete.

Four bulls have been euthanized as a result of injuries sustained over the 960 PBR events held since 1992, which translates to 1 out of every 23,735 outs.

The bulls that have sustained life-threatening injuries at PBR events have been taken to large animal hospitals for treatment and care. Three of the animal athletes that have sustained life- threatening injuries received hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical treatment and lived for extended periods of time (up to two years) before the injuries required euthanization.

A bucking bull has a .004% chance of sustaining a life-threatening injury at a PBR event.

Raising and owning bucking bulls is a full time job.  It is very expensive and time consuming.  Because of this, I seriously doubt a stock contractor would want any harm to come to his bulls.   The following video Breeding and raising bulls for the PBR will drive these points home. Watch as PBR stock contractor, Greg Simano, explains the various aspects of being a stock contractor:

Commish Mark 

( From the look of things, these bulls are leading a better life than the CARDINAL COUPLE Co-Owners. Good job, today!)


Thursday brings the CARDINAL CARAVAN to Louisville with an appearance at Captain's Quarters on River Road. Meet the owners and writers of CARDINAL COUPLE at the event...which begins at 5:30. 

You'll get a chance to meet with coaches, players and Cardinal Fans at the annual event...the final stop of a three-day whirlwind tour that takes the participants to Owensboro, Bowling Green and other stops in the state. 

I know, it's supposed to be another scorcher outside on Thursday, but the event is a great chance to hear about the upcoming teams and events for UofL sports and have a little fun in the process. 

Softball coach Sandy Pearsall, women's basketball coach Jeff Walz, the LadyBirds, UofL Cheerleaders, Louie the Cardinal Bird and the pep band under the direction of "Iowa" Al Greener will also be in attendance. We're trying to arrange a three-point contest between our staff chimp Co-Co and Shoni, but UofL isn't responding favorably to the far. 

Fish, cold beverages and Cardinal Nation! Sounds like a pretty good Thursday! See you there.  No rain, no rain, no rain, no rain...(we hope).


The stat line for Angel McCoughtry against Great Britain made us do a double take. Talk about a busy fifteen minutes!

--  Two for three on shots
--  Three for four from the foul line
--  Seven points
--  Six rebounds
--  Three assists
--  Five steals
--  Three fouls
--  One turnover

Obviously, she wasn't standing over in the corner signing autographs during her time on the court. #35 representing! 


  1. Although I have no idea what bull riding has to do with women's athletics at UofL, these articles about bull riding have been informative. I guess the summer months are pretty slow for you guys.

    I hope that The Commish will write as informative and detailed articles about womens' sports at UofL when they begin.

    Larry B
    Hartford, CT

    1. We gave our writers the months of June and July to write about whatever they wanted to, Larry. Mark and I have discussed some ideas for August and beyond and I'm confident that Mark's quality and detailed reports will easily transfer over to womens' athletics at UofL.

      Unless he joins the bull riding circuit. Then, we may have to cut him a little slack.


  2. I am a bull rider from south Dakota I enjoyed reading this I am also writing a research paper and could use some help

  3. Great site, I've always loved watching this sport and had my doubts about Peta's claims so thanks for clearing that up

  4. This pile of garbage lacks facts and should not be believed by your few readers. "The bulls are not coerced into bucking. It is simply what they like to do. A bull bucks because it is in their blood." This is clearly your opinion based on your support of rodeos on not any facts. I will not waste my time going line-by-line discrediting all the nonsense in this article because facts clearly mean nothing to you.

    1. Why do you think horses buck when you try to ride them? My horse still bucks even after 12 years of riding him. Bulls and horses are bucking animals. They do it naturally in the wild; they are not being forced

  5. Whoever wrote this is COMPLETELY DILLUSIONAL! I just returned from a PBR rodeo, where they were riding bulls (1st and last time) we lasted about an hour, then couldn't take anymore and had to leave. EVERYTHING mentioned in the above "myths" I just witnessed first hand at the highly acclaimed PBR rodeo. Hence the necessity to respond to these ridiculous claims! In my hour at the rodeo, I witnessed bulls getting kicked and punched as hard as a rider could deliver, several times. I saw multiple bulls getting their tails pulled to try to get them to move, one so hard I literally thought they were going to pull it off. I saw electric prods, spurs and bucking straps used on pretty much every bull there (again, PBR show!) If a bull doesn't move willingly from one pen to another, they use the electric prod to make them move. And myth 2, the flank strap is not used to cause harm or make them buck. Really?? Come on people, this is so ridiculous I shouldn't even have to comment! Bulls don't naturally go around bucking wildly, injuring themselves from all the hard thrashing. Something is making them act so crazy, hence the flank strap and everything else I mentioned and other things I haven't mentioned. That's just common sense. I had a feeling I was in for some more animal cruelty when we were walking into the show, just because that's what happens when animals are used for our entertainment, unfortunately. Glad I witnessed it so I can pass the word, but I will never return. And as for the person that wrote this ridiculous post, try getting seats where you can see what goes on in the pens leading up to "show."

  6. The bulls and horses are bred to buck. It's in their blood to do so. The animals are better taken care of than the riders. The bulls and horses have so much money invested in them that the owners wouldn't allow them to get hurt. If you were to actually do your research and actually talk to some of the people that run the rodeo, you would know they aren't getting hurt. The laws that are in place won't allow that to happen. Yes, they put a COTTON strap around the animal's waist to ENCOURAGE them to buck. I have been around the bulls and horses before and after the rodeo and they don't have any marks on them and they're calm as can be.

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