Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association fines team roping star Jade Corkill $2,000; no entity associated with charreada does anything at all
JOLIET, Illinois––Every Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] video of charreada, or “Mexican-style” rodeo, shows intense abuse of steers and horses.
Even by that miserable standard, the gratuitous violence demonstrated by one particular charro at a charreada in Will County, Illinois, on July 30, 2023 was so far beyond even charreada norms that Showing Animals Respect & Kindness founder Steve Hindi excerpted from the SHARK video of the entire event three minutes and 51 seconds of that particular charro’s behavior during the steer-tailing competition.
In steer-tailing, riders on horseback [charros] grab a running steer by the tail, then kick the steer with their spurs until the steer falls or breaks loose.
Official descriptions of steer-tailing allege that the charros wrap the steer’s tail around their ankles to trip the steer. Showing Animals Respect & Kindness videos of steer-tailing competitions at fifteen charreadas held in the Chicago suburbs during 2022 and 2023 show just a few examples of charros managing to do that, but many examples of charros ripping the skin off of a running steer’s tail, called “degloving,” while repeatedly kicking the steer until the skin tears loose and the injured steer gets away, badly injured.
Describes ANIMALS 24-7 editor Beth Clifton of the 3:51 video focusing on the apparent worst offender, “The subject charro starts out slapping his horse repeatedly, then begins to spin the horse around, pulling very hard on the reins to jerk the bit in the horse’s mouth.
“The horse resists this abuse and tries to escape the continuous yanking on his mouth as the charro forcefully pulls up on his reins over and over.
“The horse rears up and responds to the abuse with resistance.
“As the charro awaits his turn to chase a steer, he slaps the horse hard on each side of the horse’s face face, and then starts causing the horse to turn very tight turns by pulling hard on the reins. He hit the horse hard on the top of the head with a whip about five times.
Whipped another charro’s horse
“Then he assists another charro by whipping the charro’s horse repeatedly to make him go faster as the other charro tries to grab the steer’s tail, apparently effecting a degloving.
“After minutes of yanking on the horse’s mouth, beating the horse, and whipping the horse,” Beth observed, “the horse shut down and refused to respond any further.
“The horse begins to rear up over and over, attempting to escape the abusive charro on his back to no avail. The charro punches the horse repeatedly, stabbing the horse with the spurs on his boots, but still cannot get the horse to move forward at all.
Horse tried to escape abuse
“The horse backs up, hitting the fence and a young woman who was sitting on the fence.
“Another charro attempts to assist the abusive charro, but the horse continuously tries to escape the abuse by rearing up. At this point the horse has become numb to the abusive yanking on his mouth with the reins.
“Blood is visible where the abusive charro is continuously kicking the horse.
“The abusive charro has no control of the horse any more.
“It’s the most horrible thing I have ever seen done to a horse by someone on a horse’s back,” Beth concluded, from her perspective as a longtime horse owner and rider, and as a former Miami Beach mounted police officer, as well as her experience as a cruelty investigator.
“The worst abuse I have ever seen by a rider on a horse”
“It’s the worst abuse I have ever seen by a rider on a horse. I’m surprised the leather reins didn’t break,” Beth concluded.
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, Action for Animals of Oakland, California, and ANIMALS 24-7 have all brought examples of similar violence against both horses and steers to the attention of the entities purporting to regulate charreada, albeit by many individual charros instead of just one charro beating horses repeatedly, to no avail.
All Ramiro Rodriguez of the American Charro Association has had to offer is that he is “A
charro, son of a charro, father of a charro and grandfather of a future charro,” a response which appears to establish only that idiocy does indeed run in families.
“Authorities should take action”
Edward F. Ramírez of the Mexican American Classic Charrería Organization has had a little more to say.
Emailed Ramirez to Action for Animals and ANIMALS 24-7, “We have no control over these events, which are not organized by any of the charreria organizations. There should be laws on the books that protect animals from abuse. When something like this is seen,” Ramirez said, “it should be reported to the local authorities, who should take action.”
Well yes. That is exactly what Steve Hindi has been doing for nearly a year now, posting video after video of steer-tailing, tail degloving, and horse-beating at Chicago-area charreadas to the SHARK web site, calling the Boone, McHenry, Will, and Ogle County sheriff’s offices and animal control departments, repeatedly visiting their respective county councils to testify in person, and visiting the Illinois State Department of Agriculture headquarters to inquire as to why the department fails to enforce the state laws it is entrusted with enforcing to protect rodeo animals, among others.
This is part of Mexican culture?
What Hindi encounters, over and over, in absence of individuals in the positions of Rodriguez and Ramirez speaking out, is the repeated insistence of charreada promoters and participants, amplified by Maria Gardner Lara of Northern Public Radio in particular, that charreada and everything done in charreada is part of Mexican culture.
Presumably, in the view of Lara et al, this includes yanking the flesh off of the tails of running steers, punching horses in the head repeatedly, jerking “curb” bits––not be legal in most non-rodeo events using horses––painfully back into the horses’ mouths, and kicking the sides of both horses and steers bloody with steel spurs.
Ignoring the rules
The argument that violent abuse of steers and horses in charreada can be defended as part of Mexican-American culture should have disintegrated on November 3, 2022 when Hindi distributed to the Boone County board of directors the actual charro rules enacted by the Mexican Federation of Charreria.
Last updated in 1994, before many of the Boone County charros were born, those rules prohibit practically everything except the “steer-tailing” charreada event itself that Showing Animals Respect & Kindness has been protesting to Boone County officials and other agencies since September 6, 2022.
But so far not even one representative of any organization purporting to follow the Mexican Federation of Charreria has looked at the Showing Animals Respect & Kindness videos and stood up to affirm, on the record, to the appropriate authorities, that the animal abuse shown is not how charreada should be conducted, and that the perpetrators of the well-documented abuse should be prosecuted for cruelty to the maximum extent of the law, with no licenses granted to hold charreadas unless the rules of the Mexican Federation of Charreria are enforced.
American-style rodeo abuse
Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, as it happens, has also documented and protested against American-style rodeo animal abuse for 31 years.
Action for Animals founder Eric Mills has lobbied for legislation against American-style rodeo animal abuse for about a decade longer, winning passage of local ordinances to prohibit such once common events as “wild cow milking” and “mutton busting,” along with helping to win passage of laws in California and Colorado to ban steer-tailing and horse-tripping, another common charreada exercise.
Another ANIMALS 24-7 reader from day one, retired 60-year humane executive Warren Cox, began efforts to prosecute American-style rodeo animal abuse in 1963, at the Humane Society of Missouri, and continued in 1967 at the Oregon Humane Society.
PRCA vs. Jade Corkill
Perhaps because of the long history of humane opposition to the treatment of animals in American-style rodeo, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) responded quickly to complaints that 13-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Jade Corkill of Fallon, Nevada, a three-time world champion in the team roping event, had been seen flogging his horse at the Livingston Roundup Rodeo in Montana, held from July 2 to July 4, 2023.
Wrote PRCA director of rodeo administration Steve Knowles to Corkill on July 7, 2023, “It was reported at the Livingston, Montana PRCA rodeo that you were abusive to your horse. It was reported that you were aggressively abusive to your horse after your team roping competition run.
“The report stated that you whipped your horse on the face, side, and hind side,” Knowles continued. “It was stated that you continued to do this for a good 15-20 minutes while the horse was tied to a trailer.
“Conduct detrimental to the image of the PRCA”
“This is in violation of [PRCA rules against] mistreatment of an animal, conduct detrimental to the public image of the PRCA.”
Advised Knowles, “You have been fined $1,000 for the mistreatment of animals, and an additional $1,000 for conduct detrimental to public image. This is for a total of $2,000. If you are again found to be violating the above-named rules, you will be fined accordingly.”
Posted Corkill to Facebook after the Knowles letter became public, “I was actually not fined because I did NOT beat my horse. But thanks for your concern.”
Corkill wants to know who complained about him
Corkill, apparently after learning he had indeed been fined, posted to Facebook on July 8, 2023, “Just curious if anyone would like to come forward about turning me in for ‘mistreatment of an animal’ and ‘conduct detrimental to public image’ at Livingston MT? 2,000 dollar fine just off someones word.”
Responding to Corkill’s first posting, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association chief executive officer Tom Glause wrote, “PRCA does not tolerate animal abuse. We take any accusations of abusive behavior by PRCA members very seriously, whether it occurs during a competition or outside the rodeo arena.
“When we were notified about the incident involving Mr. Corkill, we responded decisively, including assessing fines in accordance with PRCA rules,” Glause confirmed.
“We will continue to monitor the situation,” Glause said, “and take any additional steps that may be required should new information come to light.
“More than 60 rules governing animal care”
“PRCA has more than 60 rules governing animal care,” Glause mentioned. “We continually evaluate those rules and any penalties that may be associated with rule violations.”
Most if not all of the PCRA rules governing animal care are re-statements of rules drafted by the American Humane Association, which monitored PRCA-sanctioned rodeos from 1959 to 1972.
The American Humane Association [AHA] published the original 16 rules as a two-page spread in the July/August 1959 edition of The National Humane Review, a periodical published by the AHA from 1913 to 1973.
Appended at the end was a qualifier that producing the rules in no way constituted an American Humane Association endorsement of rodeo, and that the AHA could not endorse rodeo because rodeo constitutes animal exploitation.
The American Humane Association repeated the same statement in a brochure when it withdrew from monitoring rodeos.
“Jade Corkill should be expelled from the PRCA”
Neither Knowles nor Glause responded to an inquiry from ANIMALS 24-7 as to whether the complaint against Corkill came from other rodeo participants, spectators, or animal advocates, and whether it was supported with photographs or video evidence.
Outreach coordinator Eva Hindi of Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, one of Steve Hindi’s two adult daughters, meanwhile considered the fine levied against Corkill to be light punishment.
“Are we to understand,” Eva Hindi posted, “that Steve Knowles considers the potential stain on the PRCA public image to be as important as beating a horse for 15-20 minutes, while restrained, tied to a trailer? I’d bet that if it were Mr. Knowles who was tied and beaten, he would see this matter somewhat differently.
“Clearly Jade Corkill should be expelled from the PRCA,” Eva Hindi argued. “Anything less proves what SHARK has always stated about the PRCA’s supposed humane rules: they’re nothing but public relations fluff for the kind of media that rolls over for fake cowboys.
“Corkill’s cruelty is felonious”
“Corkill’s cruelty is felonious, and should be treated as such,” Eva Hindi continued. “Corkill’s only concern is obviously his financial winnings. If the PRCA were run by a real man or woman, Corkill would be gone for good. Shame on on Corkill, and shame on Steve Knowles, who isn’t just a fake cowboy, but a fake leader as well.”
Overlooked in Eva Hindi’s response was that a fine of $1,000 is actually the maximum penalty for cruelty to animals allowed by Montana law, had the Corkill case been taken to court, and that so far as is known, Corkill would have been a first-time offender, who might therefore have received only a suspended sentence.
In effect, the PRCA did punish Corkill to the maximum extent that it could for a first offense––and no organization involved in charreada has thus far paid even public lip service to calling charros to account for steer and horse abuse.