TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — When George Youngerman trains his horses, he’s forming a bond with them. He owns retired show horses and knows all too well that he doesn’t have to ride them to love them.
For Youngerman, his relationship with his horses all comes down to respect.
“They don’t have to do things for you just to win your confidence and your respect,” Youngerman said.
He said that respect comes from learning to speak with them. Instead of looking at the horses head on, he communicates with them on their side because they don’t become as fearful when they can see him from that angle.
He uses treats like apples to reward his horses and guides them with a long pole called a carrot stick to train them. He said that’s a better alternative than fear.
When training horses for a rodeo, he said sometimes people can be extreme.
“If you’re always prodding or kicking a horse or slamming a horse with a switch or a rope, that horse is going to be afraid you. You want that horse to be on your level and to be your friend,” Youngerman said.
Steve Kozachik, the councilman of ward 6 in Tucson also sid rodeos using electric cattle prods is cruel.
“That cowboy or cowgirl who’s doing that these days are not doing that to earn a living. They’re doing it for entertainment value,” Kozachik said.
He said there should only be one exception to using electric cattle prods and that’s if the bull is charging at people in the arena.
He said he’s willing to pull funds from the 2024 rodeo and its parade if they don’t stop using electric cattle prods.
He said he would have to get the majority of the city council to vote on taking away the money but doesn’t know how much money that would be.
As for where that money would have gone, he said it would have gone towards traffic control for the parade.
The Tucson Rodeo said they follow the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s rules so both animals and humans can be safe.
They said they do not use electric prods unless it is used by someone who is trained and only when it’s for the the animal or people in the rodeo’s safety. They said that decision is made by a judge, contestant, and stock contractor.
They said they don’t use electric prods a lot and don’t use it on an animal’s head.
Youngerman said he hopes anyone training a horse keeps it healthy.
“Horses don’t owe you a thing. We owe horses,” he said.
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