Animal Welfare

They are majestic yet they are respected, though feared they challenged. The stock of our rodeo are the stars of the show and are treated like royalty. Our stock will not perform to the best of their ability if they are not happy, healthy and well cared for.

"The origins of Australian rodeo are in the outback with the stockmen and drovers who pioneered the overland stock routes and the huge sheep and cattle stations of the north. No other sport can claim such a strong link to the day to day skills and practices of the working stockmen and drover. Riding a rough horse before starting a days work, or working with wild cattle in the rough and ready bronco yards of an outback station was and still is a part of everyday life.
Australian rodeo can be traced back some 150 years to informal matches between renowned horse breakers or rough riders and outlaw buckjumpers. Most stations boasted a horse that can't be ridden and any man who claimed he could ride a bit was sure to be put to the test." - Australian Rodeo Federation

A key part of the Smithton's rodeo’s reputation for providing outstanding rodeo competition,is based on our respect and commitment to the welfare of the livestock. As with any sport, human or animal, peak performance is only achieved through proper care and good health.  

As a result, the Smithton Rodeo has some of the highest animal welfare standards guided by the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) Animal Welfare Code of Conduct.


How Often Are Animals Injured?

A survey conducted by the APRA showed the injury rate for animals used in rodeos throughout Australia is 0.072 per cent. Our target for the Smithton Rodeo is zero animal injuries for each event.

We have a qualified veterinarian on hand for the duration of the event and strict polices and procedures in place should an unfortunate event occur. We also have a paramedic on standby as its usually the riders that come off second best.

We also ensure our livestock are provided by respected and licenced stock contractors that ensure all bulls and horses are specifically bred and trained for the rodeo arena and comply with changes to competition rules.


Roping Device

The roping device works as a “shock absorber” to lessen the force experienced by both the horse and the calf, when the calf is roped.

Similar to abseiling equipment, it is made from high strength anodised aluminium and attached to the rider’s saddle horn. The lasso rope is threaded through the device with a backstopper knot to prevent the rope from running through the end. The device has demonstrated high durability during all field testing and proven to reduce the impact by up to 75 per cent.

The roping device has been endorsed by all major Rodeo Associations in Australia as a standard minimum equipment requirement for competition in all Australian-based rodeo rope and tie events.


Flank Straps

There is a misconception on the animal welfare standards associated with rodeo's. The committee feels strongly about the correct education of our event standards and is happy to discuss those with any that may have questions. Some questions that have been asked in the past for example, a beast’s bucking action is not caused by pain inflicted from the flank strapped wrapped around the animal’s genital area.

The lined portion of the flank strap must be positioned over the flank and belly of the animal. It must also be covered with sheepskin or other suitable material and fitted with a quick release.

At no time does the flank strap come in contact with the genitals and is rarely pulled tighter than your trouser belt.


Electric Prod

We do not use electric prods on animals in the arena or where it is unable to move in response to the prod such as the chutes. Prods can only be powered by dry cell batteries, as used in torches, must be used with restraint and restricted to the minimum amount necessary.

Prods can only be used by stock contractors or by a person nominated by them under direct supervision.



Spurs used by contestants in bucking horse events must have blunt, free running rowels and must be at least 3mm thick and 2cm in diameter so they will not bruise or cut an animal. Spurs for bulls are semi-locked. Non-regulation spurs result in disqualification.

If you would like more information, please contact the Australian Professional Riders Association (APRA) on (07) 4661 8183 or visit