The International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) imposes specified rules, which are strictly enforced, and penalizes any contestant found to be guilty of inhumane treatment of animals, the least of which is their immediate disqualification from further competition.
Gay rodeos operate under greatly modified rules of straight rodeo while still preserving this American tradition. Although consisting of traditional rodeo events such as bull riding and bronc riding, gay rodeo activities purposefully have been tailored to provide the animal and human participants with the safest environment possible, while still demonstrating the skill of the contestant.
IGRA bylaws are public record and include numerous rules which strongly protect animals from abuse, including passages that prohibit the use of lame, sore, sick, or undersized stock; mandate the availability of veterinary care; prohibit the beating or cruel prodding of animals; direct the release of any animal from competition that appears in danger of injuring itself; and forbid the use of metal or fiberglass rigging, any equipment judged to be too tight, or the concealed use of caustic ointments or burrs.
There are, however, groups who do not agree with the utilization of animals in any capacity. These animal rights groups oppose the keeping of animals as pets, the presence of animals in zoos and circuses, and the use of animals in the development of life-saving drugs.
Members of these groups should be able to voice their views and disseminate any information they feel is pertinent to their beliefs - that is, so much that it is factual, well-researched, and based upon first-hand observation, as most of the exaggerated accusations of abuse made by animal rights groups toward gay rodeo are based on erroneous information drawn mainly from straight, backwoods rodeos.
Animal rights supporters take the position that animals are equal or superior to humans based upon their inability to make choices for themselves, and that any use by humans is unjust. Further, these groups infringe upon the differences of the lesbian and gay community by attempting to persuade others to conform to their beliefs, giving the impression that the gay rodeo community is anti-animal. This is patently false, as the sponsoring organizations of the celebrations wish to demonstrate a positive force in the community while proving the diversity of the community.
Patrons of gay rodeo support animal welfare, and the humane, responsible treatment of animals in their housing, feeding and exercising, and hygienic and medical needs. These men and women further believe that the raising of animals in a humane manner to be pets or recreational companions is rewarding for both the animals and humans involved.