Dust off your cowboy hat and boots – it’s rodeo time again.
The 61st annual Waimate Rodeo takes place on Saturday at the Waimate A&P Showgrounds, with 190 competitors set to take part in different events.
They include barrel racing, rope and tie, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, bull ride, bareback ride and team roping.
There is also a junior barrel race and steer ride.
Waimate Rodeo secretary Lynne Couper said about 750 spectators were expected at this year’s event.
Rodeo fans could expect the usual events, as well as a new addition.
“This year… we have a barrel run which will be horses versus motorbikes to see who’s fastest, so that will be pretty cool,” she said.
There will also be entertainment for children.
Animal welfare organisation Safe has called for people to boycott the rodeo. It said animals would be subjected to “fear, stress and torment”.
“Rodeo events inevitably cast a negative light on New Zealand’s reputation,” Safe campaigns officer Marianne Macdonald said in a statement.
“If those in the Waimate and South Canterbury area care about animals and disagree with abuse, I urge them to please avoid the rodeo.”
However, Mrs Couper said the Waimate Rodeo was in the business of saving animals’ lives as opposed to harming them.
“We’re a bit different in the sense that we own the horses and lease them out to other rodeos.
“We rescue all of our horses from the meat works truck. For nine months of the year, they live quite happily. They (Safe) believe we have electric prods and shock them in the yards to get them to buck – we don’t.”
According to the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association website, a flank strap – a sheepskin-covered strap that goes around the flank of the animal – is used to encourage a “natural buck”.
Mrs Couper said the Ministry for Primary Industries had given the rodeo “a clean bill of health”.
“We’ve never had any disasters.”
She said a veterinarian would be in attendance for the entire event, and St John on hand to treat any riders if necessary.