It was wet and soggy but the 51st annual Innisfail Daines Ranch Rodeo was another great success, as fine a celebration of western Canadian culture that can be found anywhere.
And now rodeo fans are gearing up for the Calgary Stampede. This year will be special. There are reports the recently married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are planning to attend the world-renowned event during their highly anticipated Canadian tour next month.
But animal activists in both the United Kingdom and Canada are now doing what they do best – making a lot of noise when good propaganda opportunities present themselves.
While animal activists were suspiciously quiet during the less high profile Daines rodeo they are already busy as bees creating pre-tour mischief across the world with nonsense that today's rodeo world is a brazenly cruel sport like no other.
The Vancouver Humane Society and the British League Against Cruel Sports, along with Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe (FAACE), have all sent letters to the royal couple asking them to stay away from the rodeo at the Calgary Stampede.
The shenanigans by these groups parallel the recent and equally unfair treatment now being meted out against non-accredited Alberta zoos, which for years have been subjected to mind- boggling weird public attacks by these same activists.
This recently triggered a costly provincial investigation along with bureaucratic interference from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a national umbrella group. Three Hills' GuZoo Animal Farm is shut down because of the groups' well orchestrated strategy, and the long-term future of Innisfail's Discovery Wildlife Park is today at least cloudy because of it.
But for the next few weeks the push against the zoo strategy will be on hold. The Calgary Stampede is now the public relations priority and world headlines await the activists.
“I'm worried that Kate will break down in public, when she sees a calf being strangled when jerked to a halt at breakneck speed,” opined Tony Moore, the chairman of FAACE. “None of the horses used are wild, they are tame, but they aggravate them by bashing them around.”
Bashing around? Well, a recent survey in the United States showed that out of 71,743 animal exposures at 187 rodeo performances in one year, there were 38 injuries. That works out to an injury rate of .00052 per cent.
Compare that to injuries sustained in non-animal sports like hockey and football and the statistics will prove rodeo is far safer for the animals than for humans who go headhunting on the ice or field. As for the European animal activist groups demanding the end of all rodeo sports, is it any less safe from injury than hard fought games of professional rugby or soccer are for humans?
What is important for the public to consume, however, is balanced information. While animal activists have become experts at creating big splashy headlines they sidestep all notions to present an accurate and fair accounting of the facts.
Citizens should read the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association's (CPRA) Code of Practice for the Care & Handling of Rodeo Livestock. At the very least they will read that the CPRA takes animal safety and welfare most seriously. What many people outside rodeo circles may not know is that the CPRA has over the years made great strides to have an open working relationship with provincial Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) agents and inspectors.
Rodeo is certainly not the perfect safety sport, but like any other that has dangerous elements there are safeguards in place, enforced, and under constant review and evolution.
And while it is not yet certain whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the rodeo at the Calgary Stampede, it would be a shame if they bow to the bleatings of animal activists whose agenda is presented wrecklessly and without balance.
Instead, the royal couple, Canada's future king and queen, should be proud that this country should honour them by presenting a vital piece of the realm's great heritage.