LAS VEGAS – Steve Hindi and his national animal rights group want rodeos in Reno and elsewhere to stop shocking horses for sport.
Hindi’s group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, has released video footage that he says shows Reno Rodeo horses getting shocked -- in violation of the rodeo's policy -- just before they left chutes during a competition last month.
The footage shows an unknown person secretly giving electric shocks to horses as they're released at the rodeo, which ran June 14-23.
“Our person was there. We took this video. This is evidence that the practice goes on,” Hindi told the Los Angeles Times.
Rodeo spokesman Steve Schroeder told the Reno Gazette-Journal that bucking horses were indeed shocked at the event. "It is true, that guy is shocking horses, and we're not OK with that," he said.
Schroeder said that the man caught on video, whom he would not identify, would no longer be allowed at the rodeo.
But Hindi told The Times that the Reno Rodeo was covering up what he called a systematic use of shocking tools on horses by a number of people, not just one man.
“The whole damn thing is rotten,” he said. “Some horses were double shocked. They have tried to scapegoat one person in an effort to make the problem go away. They said he won’t be allowed back at the rodeo. But we know that’s bull. There are four guys doing this.
“It’s not going on in a vacuum. The riders know, the judges know, the announcers know. It’s a systematic problem.”
Hindi said the group planned to hold a news conference Friday in Reno at which it would show other video footage -- also taken at the June event -- of additional men involved in the animal shocking.
He said the product used to shock the animals is called a Hotshot Power Mite and that its instructions say the device is designed for hogs and bovines and should not be used on horses.
“They say they don’t want the product used for horses because it will make the animal mad and it will fight. But that’s what they want the animal to do at rodeos," Hindi said. "These people are purposely misusing the product.”
An online add for the Power Mite proclaimed: “The perfect hand-held prod for anyone doing close-in work. Makes a great second prod that fits easily into your pocket. 6 1/4"L. Excellent for close work with swine. Complete with handy wrist strap. Uses two 9 Volt Alkaline Batteries.”
Ruth Jeffers, owner of a company that distributes the product, said it was not designed for horses. “Definitely not,” she told The Times. “That would be an off-label use -- like people using medications how they’re not designed.”
Hindi said the group also had footage taken at June's Reno Rodeo of two running calves that were roped around the neck and flipped over on their backs. One calf's rear leg was injured and the animal is seen hobbling out of the arena. The other calf's neck appeared to break as the contestant continues to tie its legs, and the animal was loaded into a pickup for removal.
Schroeder told the Reno newspaper that the two injuries in calf-roping competition were unfortunate incidents that sometimes happen at rodeos.