Rodeo bosses have slammed claims from animal welfare groups of a cover-up over the death of a horse at the recent Gisborne rodeo.

A bull had to be put down during last month's Gisborne event and anti-rodeo groups last week said the death of a horse had also occurred and subsequently been "covered up".

New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association (NZRCA) president Lyal Cocks said that was not the case.

"A horse died in the stockyards at the Gisborne Rodeo as a result of an accident," he said.


"The details of the accident are included in the NZRCA's report to MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries).

"While any accident involving stock is regretted and saddens all rodeo members, this unusual accident away from the competition could have happened in any stock yards or paddock anywhere in the country and would not be news.

"The NZRCA has, understandably, become cautious speaking out in an environment of extreme negativity towards rodeos, which appears to be promoted by most media organisations."

Animal rights and welfare organisation SAFE yesterday said it had obtained information that revealed a second animal was killed, "showing a lack of transparency around the animal cruelty in the rodeo community".

"A source from the rodeo community, who wishes to remain anonymous, has informed SAFE that a horse was killed at the Gisborne Rodeo on December 27 after escaping a chute and running into a fence," SAFE head of campaigns Marianne Macdonald said.

"This was the same rodeo where a bull was shot after dislocating part of his leg in a bull ride event.

"There's no transparency or accountability at rodeo events. It requires whistle-blowers and activists to bring fatalities to the public's attention, so we don't know how many animals overall are killed by the rodeo cowboys."

The Rodeo Code of Welfare covers animals used in rodeo events, as well as animals used in rodeo training and rodeo schools.

However, there are no requirements to report publicly on animal deaths and injuries.

"We know at least four animals have died in rodeo in 2018 but we don't know how many have died in training. This figure could be so much bigger," Macdonald said.

Anti Rodeo Action NZ's spokeswoman Lynn Charlton called for an immediate ban on rodeos, ahead of the Wairoa rodeo on January 19.

"We expect the Government and all farmers to be very concerned about what rodeo is doing to our international image.

"If you're relying on farming for your income, you'd better hope the Government puts an end to rodeo, and quick smart.

"Terrorising and assaulting animals for entertainment is not acceptable to New Zealanders, and it would certainly be unacceptable to our trading partners.

"That some of these deaths are covered up to hide them from public outcry makes it all the more urgent to ban rodeo now."

Meanwhile, SAFE said it was disgusted by the behaviour towards anti-rodeo activists at the Mid Northern Rodeo over the weekend.

SAFE said activists at the Mid Northern Rodeo in Whangarei on Saturday held a peaceful protest outside the event, while others bought tickets to enter the event to record footage of the "animals being abused". SAFE said both groups were confronted with aggressive, bullying behaviour.

SAFE's Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald says the behaviour of rodeo supporters at Saturday's Mid Northern Rodeo says a lot about the culture of rodeo.

"Vigilantes in the crowd took it upon themselves to confront in the most appalling way, people peacefully filming," Macdonald said.

Mid Northern Rodeo organisers said they were disappointed with the actions of some protesters who did not heed warnings not to film events with high-definition cameras.

Mid Northern Rodeo member Dianna Bradshaw said police were called on Saturday after animal activists breached a ban on filming with high-definition cameras.

Police confirmed they were called to the grounds but no arrests had been made.

Gisborne Herald/NZME