As a retired farmer, I have been actively attempting to have rodeos banned in New Zealand. At the last election I voted Labour, as they had promised to ban rodeos, and then with the coalition with NZ First that has been scrapped, as NZ First support the ongoing brutality and cruelty inflicted on all rodeo animals.

I was pleased to see the Northern Region rodeo has been cancelled this year due to sponsors pulling out their support, and the rodeo club is unable to fund the ongoing horrific brutality which inflicts pain, trauma and terror on all the animals forced to take part.

My whole life, and that of my farming parents before me, has been with handling all animals in a manner that works with the animal, to have a relationship that sees a productive and happy existence for the animals we have shared our lives with.

I have experience in training horses, instructing young people and adults in riding skills and in judging and assessing horses in exhibiting classes. At no time in any relationship with any animal is it necessary or appropriate to use force or intimidation to get positive results and co-operation from any animal, and for any supporter of rodeo to say or purport that animals "enjoy" the rodeo experience is total fabrication.

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In fact the total opposite is the case.

One example I would like to share is of an off-the-track thoroughbred I took on about five years ago. This horse was classed as too slow, and had been "run on" in races. That means that other, faster horses had come up behind him and knocked him out of the way, literally, and of course he had been whipped constantly to try to make him go faster. It took me several weeks to get him to accept that when I pointed my arms out from my sides he was not going to get whipped, and even then I would be cautious about sudden movements to the side of his vision range.

This horse had suffered pelvic injuries from being "raced on," and his memory of this would make him leap forward suddenly if any other horse came up behind him quickly or was unexpected. Therefore the best place for me to ride him was at the rear of any group, where he could feel relaxed.

This story, I hope, reflects that horses, like cattle, have long and retentive memories of what happens to them, and will react/act in a manner that will protect them in the flight or fight response.

When a horse has a flank rope attached, of course it will buck, as it thinks it has a predator on its haunches, and the only way it can hope to dislodge it is through bucking and twisting. This is not an exhibition of pleasure: it is an exhibition of terror.

The same is said for cattle used in bull riding, and the calves that have their whole physical being abused and tortured with roping. These animals will be running for their lives, trying to escape what they remember is coming.

The last comment I will make is: the term 'cowboy' has come to mean someone who is untrained and a person who takes short cuts when doing anything: the people who take part and defend rodeos are that exactly.

ALICE HICKS

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Kihikihi