Bull riding

Petition to Ban Bull Riding in Manchester, NH

The New Hampshire Animal Rights League is gathering signatures to show support for prohibiting bull riding and other rodeo-type events in Manchester.

Please sign the petition:

Petition to Ban Bull Riding in the City of Manchester

Bull Riding

This traditional rodeo event, where riders compete to see who can stay atop a bucking bull the longest, has become a popular standalone sport. Professional bull riders travel to venues across the United States, competing in televised events broadcast to major sports networks. Hitched to their trucks are trailers full of animals, transported from one big city to the next.

“…the world’s best bull riding athletes against the toughest animal athletes on the planet… a share of more than $10 million in prize money including the $1 million year-end bonus for the season’s best bull rider… Each event is wrapped in a rock concert environment, complete with pulsating music, explosive pyrotechnics and fast-paced production.”
— from the Professional Bull Riders web site

Pictures of the “animal athletes” are displayed right alongside those of the “human athletes.”

An Industry on the Defensive

Those connected with the business of bull riding (and it is big business) defend it against claims of cruelty to animals. In fact, the Professional Bull Riders web site includes a section on “Animal Welfare” to address common questions and allay worries about the treatment of the bulls.

The common belief that a strap is wrapped around a bull’s testicles to make him buck is largely discredited. Ample close-up video of bucking bulls exists, and the bucking strap, which is an irritant, is cinched around the animal’s mid-section, not his testicles.

Another common concern is the use of cattle prods. The industry does not deny using cattle prods, which they refer to as “hot shots,” but are quick to say that the real reason bulls buck is breeding.

“The bulls are bred to do what they do. They’re not bred to be a meat animal, they’re not bred to be a dairy animals, they’re bred to be a bucking bull… and these guys are bred to do what they do, they know what their job is.
— Matt Scharping, Professional Bull Riders

Whether it’s breeding, training, inflicted pain, or some combination of these things that causes the bulls to buck is up for debate. The question to ask is whether the animal would choose to be there given a choice.

NHARL has been on site at the SNHU Arena in to demonstrate against each Professional Bull Riders event.

One year a police officer on traffic duty struck up a conversation with us. After learning about what the bulls are put through, he said he wished he hadn’t been assigned to work the event.

In 2020 we observed a lone bull in an open trailer, parked on Willow Street outside the arena for the duration of the event.

In 2021, our Op-Ed, Bull Riding Doesn’t Belong in NH, or Anywhere, was published in the Union Leader.

Riders Also at Risk

If imagining the bull’s experience is not enough to make one question the “sport,” bull riding is also extremely dangerous to riders.

The Professional Bull Riders web site includes a running “Injury Report.” Riders regularly suffer concussions, pelvic and back injuries, broken bones, and lacerations. An event without an injury is the exception.

Fatal accidents happen as well:

  • In January 2019, a rider competing in a Professional Bull Riders event in Denver died from his injuries after being pulled under a bull and trampled.
  • In May of 2018, a rider competing in a Professional Bull Riders event in Brazil was killed after the bull he was riding bucked and trampled him.

What You Can Do