I have family that live “out bush” in South Australia’s mid north. Their community has one major event a year – the Carrieton Rodeo. This year was its 60th rendition.
I went to my first rodeo when I was about 10 I suppose, maybe younger. As a kid I never thought too much about the animals at the rodeo – it was just “what was done” and you got to eat steak sandwiches and drink all the soft drink you could manage.
In my 20’s and 30’s it was a place to get rolling drunk and meet hot guys in cool hats – I still didn’t give much thought to the animals (well, not the furry kind anyway).
Now it seems turning 40 brings some sort of social conscience with it (not about the hot guys in cool hats, I’m still very ok with that).
I regard myself as a non-practising vegetarian. Seriously, I don’t like the idea of eating animals yet some primal need compels me to do so. My methodology is to not think too much about where it came from and avoid eating things that sound cute, like lamb. The word “steak” sounds less like it had a personality. I make things right in my mind by buying free range and organic whenever I can. That way I can hope they had a good life and were not mistreated. (Sheesh, even writing this is giving me a carnivorous guilt trip).
Animal cruelty is the number one of things I will not tolerate, ever. It sickens, disgusts and pains me beyond words. I’ve been known to attack in some situations (granted it was only verbally and via legal processes but if I were bigger…) It’s why I don’t like Australia exporting livestock to countries that don’t have the same respect for life as us. I respect the need to eat but I WILL NOT respect cruel and inhumane practices.
So I struggled with the concept that I was attending an event where animals were potentially frightened for our entertainment. In order to reconcile this:
- I asked around about the treatment of the animals (before, during and after) the event and I’m satisfied that the treatment of all participants (including humans!) is humane. In some instances the livestock used would not have any other purpose and be put to death if not for their ongoing role in the event.
- I paid more attention to the barrel race than anything else. Man and beast working together is cool. I decided I wanted to learn to do barrel racing. Mind you, I have to learn to ride a horse first but I like to dream big.
- I photographed the rest of my trip with more enthusiasm, choosing to focus on the landscape and other aspects that caught my eye.
So I think I’m ok with the whole rodeo thing. I did get totally caught up in the atmosphere and found myself spontaneously erupting with loud cheers and mad clapping when a human got thrown or charged at and the animal “won” which got me a few odd stares…
I realise this sounds hypocritical and perhaps it is.
It was perfect drinking weather and great to catch up with friends and family I haven’t seen in a while.
I would like to thank all those who are involved each year in the set up and running of the event – a brilliant example of how a community pulls together to bring people together and provide family fun and entertainment. Extra respect to those, like my aunty, who worked the steak sandwich stall – it must have been 100 degrees in there!
As promised, all photos weretaken and edited with an iPhone 5 (and/or my iPad).