In a tradition that officially dates back to 1906, and unofficially to the early days of ranching in the West, the National Western Stock Show is in town. And the annual event celebrates a lot more than funnel cakes and cowboy boots.
On Monday, Show and Tell asked readers whether they loved or hated the Stock Show. Here's Dee's offering:
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Rodeo was born from the day to day life of cattle ranchers and ranch hands. And to the best of my knowledge they still have not built a machine that does the work of a cowboy/girl and his/her horse. While bull-riding is simply the usual battle between man and beast, and barrel racing is more of a test of the working partnership between a human and a horse, the rest of the things you see are still a part of the day to day life of people living on a ranch. Horses are still being broke much the same way, because that is the way that works. Cattle still need to be rounded up and culled from a herd to be treated for injury or illness. They still have to be branded or ear pinned to prevent their theft and to give them an identity in case of another outbreak of mad cow disease. The rodeo is a celebration of this life and these people who live it. And while it does happen that animals are sometimes injured, they are still in much better health and safer than they would be left to their own devices in the wild. Horses and cattle are far from being frail creatures, more often than not it is the human who gets seriously injured in these situations.
Rodeo is an old and honorable tradition, no more disturbing than watching horse racing and far less exploitative to animals. We have already lost a lot of the tradition in this country, I don't see any reason to lose yet another.