The sport of rodeo is as much about livestock as it is cowboys and cowgirls — bulls and horses trying to buck riders off and steers testing their speed against cowboys. RodeoHouston® provides for the best possible safety and well-being of rodeo livestock as well as contestants. RodeoHouston® follows strict requirements regarding the equipment cowboys use in the arena.
Most questions regarding rodeo livestock concern the use of flank straps and spurs. The flank strap, which enhances the livestock's bucking action, is a sheepskin-lined strip of leather placed behind the horse's rib cage. Rules strictly regulate the use of the strap, which must have a quick-release buckle. Sharp or cutting objects are never placed in the strap.
Dull spurs are utilized by cowboys in three events — bareback riding, saddle bronc and bull riding. Requirements mandate that spurs have blunt rowels (the star-shaped wheel located on the spur) that are approximately one-eighth of an inch thick and therefore cannot cut the livestock. Riders using non-regulation spurs are disqualified.
A licensed veterinarian remains at the RodeoHouston® arena at all times in the event that any livestock becomes ill or injured during any of the 20 rodeo performances.
As with any sport, these livestock are athletes, and there is always a chance of injury. However, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ ensures that all livestock at RodeoHouston® are treated with appropriate care.