is both child abuse and animal abuse
Mutton busting is an event held at rodeos similar to bull riding or bronc riding, in which children ride or race sheep.
In the event, a sheep is held still, either in a small chute or by an adult handler while a child is placed on top in a riding position. Once the child is seated atop the sheep, the sheep is released and usually starts to run in an attempt to get the child off. Often small prizes or ribbons are given out to the children who can stay on the longest. There are no set rules for mutton busting, no national organization, and most events are organized at the local level.
The vast majority of children participating in the event fall off in less than 8 seconds. Age, height and weight restrictions on participants generally prevent injuries to the sheep, and implements such as spurs are banned from use. In most cases, children are required to wear helmets and parents are often asked to sign waivers to protect the rodeo from legal action in that event.
The practice has been documented as having been introduced to the National Western Stock Show at least by the 1980s when an event was sponsored by Nancy Stockdale Cervi, a former rodeo queen. At that event, children ages five to seven who weighed less than 55 pounds could apply, and ultimately seven contestants were selected to each ride a sheep for six seconds. There are no statistics about the popularity of the sport, but anecdotal reports suggest thousands of children participate in such events every year in the U.S.
Supporters consider the event both entertaining and a way to introduce young children to the adult rodeo "rough stock" riding events of bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding, and may liken its rough-and-tumble nature to the way youth sports such as football are played. Organizations such as the ASPCA discourage the practice on the grounds that it does not promote kindness to, or respect of, animals.
Taken from Wikipedia
Neal Karlinsky - ABC News - wrote:
Of all the things you can do with a toddler, “mutton busting” just might be the weirdest.
The sport is about as simple as it is obscure: Take willing kids, age 6 and under, strap a hockey helmet to their heads, put them on the backs of live sheep and see how long they can hang on. In the small town of Puyallup, Wash., and dozens like it nationwide, this kiddie rodeo of sorts makes for a particularly strange form of entertainment.
Tommy Giodone is the man responsible for the sport of mutton busting. He travels the country putting on these shows and says he’ll launch 10,000 kids into the ring this year alone (2011), up from 2,500 a few years ago.
“It’s the toughest sport on wool,” Giodone said.
We watched toddler after toddler after toddler wound up face down in a pile of dirt, most of them with the same stunned expression before bursting into tears. Many of the parents at this particular show didn’t seem too worried about their children getting injured.
“Kids heal,” parent Tara Anderson said. “There’s no point in over-protecting them and raising a bunch of sissies. They need to be boys.”
The parent-to-child pep talks were a little sketchy. Nervous mom Kera Barenda helped prep her daughter, Ella, to ride.
“I’m kind of scared,” Ella said.
“I know, me too,” her mother said.
After falling off a sheep, one little boy simply got up, brushed himself off and washed his mouth and face with water.
“That’s what real cowboys do, buddy,” said his father, beaming. “Nice job, come on, you did good.”
Five-year-old Dylan Pidrutti, her face streaked with grit and determination, had the white-knuckled grip of a champion at this show. After being awarded her medal, asked what her secret was, she said proudly, “I was hanging on tight.”
SHARK president, Steve Hindi stated:
“It is unconscionable to me that parents would willingly amuse themselves by putting their children in such a dangerous situation.
It’s aggravated child abuse.”
from the press release
Tucson, AZ – SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) are accusing the Tucson Rodeo of recklessly endangering the safety of young children at its Dodge Mutton Bustin’ event. A video filmed at the 2013 rodeo shows contestants being hurled off the backs of sheep, being thrown into metal fencing, losing their helmets, being trampled and leaving the arena hurt and crying. In one instance the child has to be carried out of the arena by his parent.
SHARK president, Steve Hindi stated, “It is unconscionable to me that parents would willingly amuse themselves by putting their children in such a dangerous situation. It’s aggravated child abuse.” Mutton Bustin’ is a competition where children aged 4 – 6 ride sheep that throw them off seconds after leaving the chute. Children are often dragged by the sheep and their helmets fly off exposing them to head injuries. The sheep a can weigh up to five times what their riders weigh.
The organizers of the event do not track the injuries that occur. At some Mutton Bustin’ events there is no requirement to wear safety gear. Parents must sign waivers releasing the event organizers from any liability and personal injury insurance is also a requirement. From its inception Mutton Bustin’ has been controversial. Animal protective agencies are finding complaints about the event reason enough to investigate.