A cowboy was rushed by ambulance to hospital after he was gored by a steer on the first day of the Luxton Pro Rodeo and Fair in Langford Saturday.
Coleman Kohorst, of Okotoks, Alta., just south of Calgary, was injured during the steer wrestling event just before 3 p.m.
An ambulance that had been on standby was driven into the ring and paramedics tended to Kohorst. Other cowboys ran to the fallen man’s side and the event came to an uncomfortable pause.
Kohorst was placed on a stretcher and driven off the dusty field and taken to Victoria General Hospital. Hours later, he remained in hospital and was expected to stay overnight.
Island Health spokeswoman Val Wilson said no information was available on the nature or seriousness of Kohorst’s injuries at the patient’s request.
Trevor Hughes, of Duncan, was in the rodeo audience with his family. He said the cowboy was attempting to jump onto the steer when he was gored in the neck.
At the back gates to the rodeo, organizers of a peaceful information protest against the event said they had gathered hundreds of signatures from people for a petition calling for the rodeo to be banned on the grounds of cruelty to animals.
But Hughes said the incident involving Kohorst showed how frail cowboys were compared with the steers, which are trained for the purpose of competing. “I love a rodeo,” Hughes said. “It’s the atmosphere, the whole Western way of life. It’s not just a rodeo, it’s a whole festival unlike anything else you find around here.”
Animal rights activists should focus their efforts on bigger and more obvious issues of animal abuse rather than impeding on the rights of others to enjoy an event featuring well-fed and cared-for animals, Hughes said.
The protesters said one person had offered them an unsolicited donation of $100. Holding signs that read, “Warning: animal abuse inside,” “No evolution since the Coliseum,” and “How fun is it to watch animals suffer?” the protesters denounced what they say is the mental anxiety and physical torment of the animals taking part in the rodeo.
It was the third year that Melissa de Meulles, a Colwood property manager and co-ordinator of Victoria Citizens Against Rodeo Events (VCARE), has organized the protest, citing events such as calf-roping and steerwrestling as most harmful.
De Meulles, who grew up in Langford, said many there agreed with her point of view.
She is taking her argument to Langford city council on Tuesday.
VCARE is asking the Luxton Pro Rodeo to voluntarily remove rodeo events harmful to animals or that Langford bans, through a new bylaw, events (including calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, sheep riding by children), equipment and practices (caustic ointments, electric prods and/or shocking devices, for example) within its borders.
The Luxton Pro Rodeo is hosted by the Metchosin Farmers Institute and run by volunteers.
To maintain its status on the professional rodeo circuit, it must include all events so competitors can move up in a points system. It follows the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s guidelines for animal welfare, which includes animal health inspections and having a veterinarian on hand.
Last week, Langford Mayor Stew Young told the Times Colonist his community seemed to be split 50/50 on the issue. While he does not support events such as calf roping, he respects the 39-year history the rodeo has in the area and that it is a business, he said.
Vancouver has a bylaw that prohibits rodeo events such as roping and steer wrestling and the use of electric prods and other devices. After a steer death in 2007, the Cloverdale rodeo dropped four roping events and lost its sanctioned status.