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Opinion

February 11, 2008

Large animal vets and bronc riders

The Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is making an effort to encourage more young people to participate in the Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding events. Simultaneously, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is making an effort to encourage more students to become livestock and equine veterinarians. Does that mean more young people are less interested in riding or doctoring untamed large herbivorous animals? Exactly!

In both cases the primary reasons given by the "non-interested" are: the work is too hard and the pay is not enough. American and Canadian young people, as a rule, have become more worldly, resigned to life, and content with the path most frequently traveled, i.e., team roping and pet practice.

So, we are going about it the wrong way if we think 21st century America will furnish enough youngsters to fill the needs of the PRCA or the AVMA. I would bet that the average U.S. high school student spends more time playing virtual sports and games in front of a screen than they do actually participating in real physical games and sports. A generation ago this wasn't the case. Coincidentally, back then there was no shortage of large animal vets and bareback riders, either.

I'm thinking if you want bronc riders and large animal practitioners, you need to look somewhere other than civilized America. Someplace like Iran, Tierra del Fuego, Mongolia or Louisiana. And there's hope on the horizon. Already, last year's National Finals Rodeo had more roughstock riders from Louisiana than from Rhode Island, Quebec and Kentucky, all together.

We should concentrate on luring bullriders from grittier places. Major League Baseball has done a wonderful job seeking hungry talent from countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. There are probably enough baseball players from Mexico and the Caribbean in the major leagues to support their own Low Rider Bus Line.

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