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The Daly Peak

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Jul 28

Training Gives a Behind the Scenes Look at Rodeo Safety and Ethics

Posted on July 28, 2014 at 10:34 AM by Kelly Vaughn

On July 23rd, local public safety officers took part in a training sponsored by Snowmass Village and Pitkin Country Animal Services and provided by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association which covered everything from livestock welfare and veterinary care to rodeo facilities and emergency management.

Snowmass Village is host to one of the country's longest running rodeos, and last week’s training was offered to Colo. public safety officers and veterinarians that have a rodeo within their jurisdiction so that they can gain a better understanding of rodeos and the ethics and practices behind them.

Snowmass Village Animal Services Officer Laurie Smith weighed in on the experience.

Attendees at the PRCA Rodeo Training in Snowmass Village

Q: How did this training opportunity come about?

A: Scott Dutcher, Program Manager for the Bureau of Animal Protection recommended the class to us and put us in touch with Cindy Schonholtz, the Director of Industry Outreach for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association based out of Colo. Springs. Cindy was kind enough to travel to Snowmass Village to teach this class and has offered the PRCA as a resource we can go to with any questions about rodeo. Having access to a professional resource such as this is a valuable tool in our kit.

Q: What was most interesting to you personally about the training?

A horse passes his visual inspection and trots off to his appropriate pen pre-rodeo.

A: Seeing the very peaceful method that Darce (Executive Director of the Snowmass Western Heritage Association—operators of the Snowmass Rodeo) and Katie Vold use to sort the bucking broncs after bringing them into the rodeo grounds was inspiring. The broncs are separated into bareback, saddle bronc, and re-ride pens. Katie Vold quietly takes a good look at each animal before it is directed into the appropriate pen.

We are lucky in Snowmass Village to have world-class stock contractors involved in the local rodeo that take supreme care of their animals. Anytime we call the Vold family with even the smallest of questions, they respond immediately and respond to any concerns. Their care practices are top notch.

Q: What surprised you the most about the training?
A: We learned a lot about the services offered by the PRCA to ensure the welfare of both animals and cowboys involved in rodeo. For example, they administer the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund which helps injured cowboys pay expenses until they get back on their feet. Also, the PRCA has its own Animal Welfare Committee and has rodeo judges to self-enforce its membership. This committee educates their membership on the best practices for livestock handling and disease management, and requires a trained veterinarian on-site at the arena during PRCA rodeos to deal with potential animal emergencies.

Q: Who benefited most from the training?
A: Animal Control officers from the front range and the western slope attended and benefitted tremendously from the training and advice.

Q: How do you feel the training will help you do your job effectively as an Animal Services Officer?
A: The better educated we are about the nuances of rodeo, the better we can answer questions that Snowmass residents may have about the event held in our own backyard, and the safety measures in place.

Q: How or why is the Snowmass Rodeo unique?

A: It focuses on family events and gets kids participating through activities like mutton busting, the calf scramble, a petting zoo, and mechanical bull. Adults can sign up for the burro racing event which always adds some humor to the night.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: Darce Vold spent time with the group describing the equipment used during rodeo events—including the flank strap people may be used to seeing on the bulls during certain events.

After reaching my hand under the flank strap on a bull in the chute, I was surprised by how lightly the soft cotton rope is applied to the flank of the bull. People would be amazed at how lightly that rope is applied.

Right: Darce Vold shows trainees some of the equipment used during the Snowmass Rodeo

Interested in learning more?
The PRCA has some helpful online resources including:


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