As an organization, we believe that customer education is extremely important in order to demystify the sport of rodeo as well as the treatment of animals. To do so, we set up a guided tour to explain the various aspects of the sport of rodeo. The program was started ten or so years ago. During the visit we explore the following topics; animal life, equipment used, regulations, various disciplines as well as a short history of rodeo. The visit not only allows our customers (festivalgoers) to see the animals in their natural habitat, but also to see the installations and better understand what a rodeo is in its entirety.
In an effort to raise awareness with the general public, we often ask our veterinarians to be spokespeople with the media. A variety of newspaper articles have already been published on animal welfare as well as on the sport of rodeo in general.
In order to initiate youth into the sport of rodeo, or to allow youth already competing to perfect their talent, we organize two rodeo schools each spring. Every spring for over a dozen years, the Festival has hired renowned award-winning teachers. The workshops allow the next generation of riders to acquaint themselveswith rodeo and to initiate young athletes into the sport. We usually have approximately 100 participants each year. During the two-weekend course, we take the opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of animals in rodeo, but especially that animals should always be treated with respect.
VETERINARY EXAM PROTOCOL
The veterinary examinations (Vet-Check) were implemented to ensure that all animals participating in the rodeo are in good physical condition, so as to avoid injuries or aggravate pre-existing injuries. Any animal that does not meet the requirements is withdrawn from the competition.
Procedures for rodeo horses :
(bareback or saddle)
- Check for all available Coggins tests;
- Visual check of overall skin/coat, for any wounds, lameness or abnormality.
- Visual check of care taken with the animal: water, food and litter.
Procedures for bulls, calves, steers :
(bull riding, calf roping and steer wrestling)
- Visual check of overall skin/coat, for any wounds, lameness or abnormality.
- Visual check of care taken with the animal: water, food and litter.
N.B. All animals supplied by animal providers are checked and feed every day by a handler. Any abnormalities detected by this person must be reported to the team of veterinarians.
Procedure for horses belonging to competitors
(barrel racing, rescue racing, exchange rider, calf roping and steer wrestling)
- Check for compulsory Coggins test;
- Vital signs: check temperature, pulse and respiration (TPR), check for abnormal secretions, check mucous membranes;
- Lameness test;
- Horses passing the above tests will receive a certificate to that effect. Furthermore, horses will receive a mane tag so they can be easily identified;
- The rodeo secretary will be advised of any horses failing the Vet-Check or failing to show for the Vet-Check. The horse will be withdrawn from all the competitions.
RODEO VETERINARY PROTOCOL
The presence of veterinarians during the rodeos allows for swift intervention in case of injury to an animal. Furthermore, vets can watch how animals are handled in order to prevent, should the need arise, any action that would hinder animal welfare.
Procedures during the rodeos
- Two vets present at all times during the rodeos;
- Emergency vet vehicle present on site, and containing the required material for the following procedures: anesthesia, x-rays, euthanasia, emergency transport, cast, sutures, analgesics and any other medication necessary to treat medical conditions;
- Drug testing is done for the two rodeo finals. A list of banned drugs and substances is available to the competitors;
- Any animal injured during a rodeo will be examined by a veterinarian and he/she decides whether the animal is withdrawn entirely from the competition.
N.B. This protocol applies to all types of rodeo animals (horses, bulls, steers, calves and competition horses)
DAILY CARE PROTOCOL
It is critical that all animals be well fed so that they can be in optimal condition when their turn comes to perform in the rodeos. It is important to be knowledgeable about and have control over what and when the animals eat to ensure their good health. This is why we use calm and qualified personnel so that no animal is ever stressed. The operative words for the employees who care for animals is vigilance and calm.
- All animals will have as much water as they want during their stay;
- Every morning, the animals are fed hay and grain/feed. This is when the animals are visually inspected.
- Every evening, the animals are fed hay and also visually inspected.
Types and number of animals
- 120 rodeo horses
- 80 bulls
- 25 calves for calf roping (220 pounds minimum weight)*
- 25 steers for steer wrestling (450 pounds minimum weight)*
- 20 steers for team steer wrestling (450 pounds minimum weight)*
* Longhorn, Corriente breeds or a cross of both breeds (original strain/breed)
N.B. All animals in a bronc/bucking competition were selected by the rodeo director. Furthermore, the performance of the animal athletes is essential as part of a high-quality show. This is so that every competitor have a fair chance of winning, given that 50 percent of the points are allotted to the animal and 50 percent of the points go to the competitor.
ANIMAL TRANSPORT PROTOCOL
Ensuring that animals are transported properly and functionally is essential to animal welfare. This is why strict procedures have been put in place to ensure the proper checks and balances for suppliers who cover great distances to bring their animals to the Festival.
Owners of any animals who travel 12 hours or more between their main place of residence and St-Tite must:
- Stop every 12 hours of travel to rest, feed and water their animals;
- Arrive at least three (3) days before the beginning of the competition to allow the animals to rest sufficiently.
Procedures upon arrival
- Each animal is inspected and evaluated by a qualified member of the Festival Western St-Tite personnel;
- If something abnormal is detected, the animal will be separated from the herd and subsequently evaluated by a veterinarian;
- Animals are kept in stalls/pens with their respective herds for the duration of the event, and are observed multiple times per day.
Transport procedures during the event
- Transport of animals from the stalls in the main stable to the arena takes place at least three hours before the beginning of each performance;
- During transport, animals are loaded into a special trailer suited to animal transport. They must be at ease during transport;
- Each transported animal is inspected/checked and evaluated by members of the Festival personnel;
- If something abnormal is detected, the animal will be isolated and evaluated by a veterinarian.
EMERGENCY MEASURES PROTOCOL IN CASE OF INJURY
When an injury or appearance of an injury occurs in the arena, both the arena team and the vets must be ready to intervene quickly. Our arena team know what to do if this type of intervention is necessary.
Procedures in the case of animal injury;
- Immobilize the animal as quickly as possible to avoid aggravating the injury further;
- The vet will make a summary diagnosis and decide on the next steps to be taken;
- If the animal needs to be evacuated from the arena to outside the building, an adapted trailer will be made available at all times;
- If required, a special gurney will be used to evacuate the animal from the arena and bring it to a location which is more appropriate for giving it the care required.
RULE FOR ADMINISTERING MEDICATION/SUBSTANCES TO COMPETING HORSES
List of allowed medications/substances :
Is allowed :
- The use of one only nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) e.g. Phenylbutazone, Flunixin,Vedaprofene etc. The presence of two or more NSAIDs is prohibited. You must therefore take the wait/withdrawal time of one NSAID before introducing another immediately before a competition, to avoid having both in the animal’s bloodstream at the same time;
- The use of antibiotics, with the exception Procaine penicillin G (white penicillin);
- The use of Altrenogest (Regu-mate ®) in mares (N.B. this medication is forbidden in stallions and geldings)
- The use of anti-ulcerative medication (e.g. Cimetidine, Omeprazole, Sucralfate, Ranitidine)
- The use of anti-parasitic medication (antiprotozoals, worming agents, fly insecticides) with the exception of Levamisole and Tetramisole
- The use of vitamins, amino acids and electrolytes, taken orally;
- The use of topical ointments for wounds as long as they do not contain any prohibited medication/substance;
- The use of substances to maintain joint health such as chondroitin, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid (Legend ®) and glycosaminoglycan (Adequan ®)
List of prohibited medications/substances
Is prohibited :
- The use of any agent, combination/cocktail or mix of substances that can affect a horse’s performance;
- The use of masking agents;
- The use of substances whose medical use is not usually associated with horses, the use of agents designed to over sensitize or desensitize and body part or limb of the horse;
Please find below a detailed, but non exhaustive, list of prohibited medications/substances:
- Anti-inflammatory substances (steroid or non-steroid) used in combination whose pharmacological actions are similar or distinct, as well as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI);
- Procaine penicillin G (white penicillin);
- Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO);
- Hyoscine or N-butyl-scopolamine;
- Local anesthetics;
- Muscle relaxants (e.g. methocarbamol, propantheline etc.);
- Antipsychotics, antiepileptics, hypertensive agents, hypotensive agents (e.g. reserpine, gabapentin, fluphenazine, guanabenz etc.);
- Antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants (TCA);
- Tranquilizers, sedatives (including sedative antihistamines) for animal or human use, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates and azaperone;
- Narcotics, opioid analgesics and endorphins;
- Amphetamines and other central nervous system stimulants including cocaine and other related psychotropics;
- Sympathomimeticcardiac stimulants;
- Beta-blockers (e.g. propranolol, atenolol, timolol etc.);
- Atropine and other anticholinergic agents;
- Peripheral or central respiratory stimulants;
- Bronchodilators, clenbuterol (Ventipulmin ®), products used to treat chronic respiratory illnesses;
- Cough suppressants and mucolytics;
- Diuretics and other masking agents;
- Anabolic steroids, including testosterone for mares and geldings, as well as growth stimulators (e.g. GnRh);
- Anticoagulants (e.g. heparin, warfarin etc.)
- Peptides and other genetically recombined substances (e.g. erythropoietin (EPO), insulin, growth agents, growth hormones etc.)
- Hormones, be they natural or synthetic, (e.g. adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH),cortisol etc.) beyond a physiological threshold level;
- Substances marketed for use in humans or species other than horses, and for which an equine equivalent exists;
- Desensitizing or hyper sensitizing (organic or inorganic) agents applied on a harness and/or certain parts of the animal’s body to influence performance;
- Laxative agents (e.g. magnesium sulphate);
- Oxygen transporters;
- All other substances having a similar structure of biological effects similar to the above mentioned medications/substances.
Emergency intervention by your veterinarian
Some horses may require veterinary treatment in the days leading up to the Festival Western St-Tite in the case of injury or sickness. It is up to the owner to advise the vet that the horse will be competing so that she/he can avoid the use of prohibited medications/substances whenever possible. In very rare cases, the vet will have no choice but to administer banned medications/substances. Because the medications/substances may not have been eliminated come competition time, and will therefore cause prejudice to the horse during the competition or favorably alter/improve its performance (doping).
When bringing the horse to the Rodeo-Vet (Vet-Check) team, the handler for the horse must:
(1) Spontaneously inform the official vets that the horse recently received medications/substances to treat a sickness or injury, and;
(2) Submit a report stating the emergency medication used and signed/dated by the veterinarian responsible for treating the horse.
(1) The drug (medication or substance) used:
- must be therapeutic,
- must be indispensable,
- must not have any authorized equivalent,
- must not affect the horse’s performance favorably,
- must have been administered by a licenced veterinarian.
(2) Administering medication to facilitate shearing/clipping, transporting, or other procedures (e.g. dental treatment) is not considered indispensable nor therapeutic.
Informing the official vets and submitting a completed emergency drug administration report does not absolve a horse and does not guarantee its participation in the competition. It does, however, prove honesty and fairness on the part of the handler for the horse. Any occurrences will be studied case per case. Subsequently, a recommendation will be made to the discipline committee, made up of Festival competition judges. The discipline committee will rule on whether the horse can or cannot participate in any competition(s), and issue a written warning and/or penalty. Honesty and fairness will be taken into consideration and are considered critical in the decision making process.
(1) All veterinary members of Rodeo-Vet are specialized equine practitioners. They are extremely knowledgeable about medications/substances commercially available to treat horses.
(2) Any horse receiving medications/substances in the days leading up to the competitions may be required to undergo drug testing.
VET-CHECK INFORMATION FOR COMPETITORS
The Rodeo-Vet team will be on site in case an emergency response is needed during the competitions. It will also be responsible for conducting the Vet-Checks and all drug testing.
The Rodeo-Vet team will take charge in case of emergencies occurring during the rodeo performances. Emergencies occurring outside these times will be handled by the St-Tite Veterinary Clinic (418-365-7302).
Vet-Checks are a compulsory summary veterinary examination of competing horses. Horses must present without a harness and bandages (tether and halter only) before their first performance. Specifically, the veterinary exam consists of a visual exam, basic vital signs including temperature, physical, heart and breathing rate, lameness check and Coggins test check (valid one year from the initial test date). The Rodeo-Vet team will evaluate each horse once only. It therefore becomes the handler’s responsibility to ensure that the horse is in optimal condition so that it can pass the exam easily. The Festival Western St-Tite allows certain medications/substances to be given in therapeutic doses as required during the competitions (see the above section entitled Rule for administering medication/substances to competing horses). A handler for a horse may therefore continue to administer allowed medication/substances before presenting the horse at the Vet-Check.
- The Rodeo-Vet team will not make any therapeutic suggestions during the Vet-Check;
- No horse will be examined a second time under the pretext that allowed medications/substances was forgotten;
- When a horse is presented at the Vet-Check, it must be in optimal physical condition i.e. no injury/injuries, no lameness or anomaly in vital signs.
Any injury that could cripple a horse or disturb rodeo spectators, anomaly in vital signs, lameness or omission to supply a complete and valid Coggins test will be grounds for immediate disqualification. This decision cannot be appealed and is for the duration of the Festival.
Because no equine hospital facilities are available on the Festival Western St-Tite site, any horse showing signs of infectious disease cannot be tolerated on site.
Vet-Check Schedule: Vet-Checks occur without appointments. They begin on the first friday at 4:00 pm. Numerous time slots are available and information from the Rodeo-Vet team can be obtained at the rodeo secretary’s office, the Cowboy Saloon, stable # 1 and in the competitor information package. Within the given time slots, horses may be presented at convenient times for handlers. All Vet-Checks, however, must take place within the scheduled times.
Remember that handlers for a horse must bring the animal to Vet-Check before its first performance. Otherwise, the horse will be disqualified immediately for the duration of any performances.
Please be vigilant!
(1) The order of priority for the Vet-Check is “first come, first served”;
(2) You may have to wait during peak times;
(3) If you arrive for the Vet-Check near closing time, you may receive a numbered ticket for the subsequent session, and you will have to come back;
(4) The will not be any extra Vet-Check sessions added to the schedule (rodeo secretary), nor will opening hours be extended;
(5) You must present a complete and valid Coggins test, or a legible copy;
(6) If you present your horse immediately after training or galloping, its vital signs may fall outside acceptable limits, and may cause the horse to be disqualified;
(7) Your patience, kindness and amiability are very much appreciated. If you find yourself lacking in any of these, remember that our veterinarians are also Festival officials.
Drug Testing :
Drug testing consists in taking a blood or urine sample. The winning horse in each category, as well as a randomly chosen horse are required to submit to blood or urine testing (vet’s choice) immediately following the final of each category. You cannot leave the main arena area until the vets have granted you permission to do so. Certain medications/substances are tolerated, but many are prohibited (see the above section entitled Rule for administering medication/substances to competing horses). Sanctions pre-established by the discipline committee will apply to any horse testing positive for:
(1) A prohibited medication or substance;
(2) A prohibited mix of allowed medications/substances;
(3) An abnormally high dose of allowed medications/substances.
N.B. Any horse having an emergency drug administration report may also be subject to drug testing.
Handlers, owners, trainers and riders are strongly cautioned against the use of any medicinal preparations, tonics, pastes, foods, supplements, nutraceuticals or herbal medicines for which they do not have knowledge of the ingredients or quantitative analysis. These products may contain ingredients that are prohibited for use during the Festival Western St-Tite.
Finally, please remember that the Rodeo-Vet veterinarians are present to ensure your horse’s health. Their goal is not to be punitive, but rather to prevent any potentially serious accidents from happening during the performances, keeping in mind that both the horse and rider can be involved. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your collaboration, and offer any additional information you think may be necessary.
Rodeo is a unique way of life. The traditions surrounding the sport were passed down by the pioneers who developed the different disciplines using everyday ranch tasks for inspiration. These traditions, although more regulated these days, continue just like in any other sport such as hockey, baseball, football and basketball. Their common goal is to captivate spectators. At the Festival, we accept the ever growing responsibilities that accompany the rodeo lifestyle and animal welfare. We will continue to be proactive for the welfare and treatment of all rodeo animals.
The sport has evolved, as has society and our organization. We have always maintained a proactive approach to professionalize the framework surrounding rodeo production. Animal welfare is one of our basic values, and we strongly believe that the use of animals for entertainment, the industry and the sport should be contained within a framework as well as regulated.
We believe that our reputation, our perfect track record and our professionalism make our way of doing things a potential reference in the world of “animal entertainment”.
The Festival Western St-Tite continues to work actively to promote the sport of rodeo and believes in educating our clientele. We also work hard to create a favorable environment, both for animals and rodeo in general, while continuing to improve our best practices at every level.
We hope that present and future laws will allow us to respect our roots, our economy and the animals. On this note, we remain available to guide you in your reflections on the topic.
Dr. Pierre Gauthier