Animals in Sports - Sports Animals Today
association racing horse horses
The only animals used in major sports today are domesticated ones: horses, bovines (calves, bulls, and steers), dogs, and cocks.
Horses are the most versatile sporting animal, participating on a large scale in sports besides racing and rodeos. (See Table 6.1.) However, none of these sports are performed by horses alone. All of them include humans, who ride the horses, run alongside them, or are pulled behind in carts.
Although bovines are not nearly as glamorous as horses, they still play a major role in two organized sports: bullfighting and rodeos. Bullfighting has a long and illustrious past, but it has never caught on in North America. It is extremely popular in Spain and Portugal, some Latin American countries (Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador), southern France, and the African island of Pemba. In Portugal the bull is not killed in the ring but may be slaughtered afterwards.
Rodeos have a much shorter history. They evolved in North America to show off the work done by ranch hands and cowboys during the 1800s to herd and control cattle. Besides their dependence on bovines, bullfighting and rodeos are unique among sports for another reason. They are the only major animal sports in which humans compete against (or must vanquish) animals.
Dogs participate on a large scale in three sports: sled dog racing, greyhound racing, and organized fighting. These sports differ widely in their legitimacy. Sled dog racing evolved as a sport to show off the skills of hardy dogs that have been pulling sleds in snowbound regions for centuries. Greyhound racing, by contrast, began as a competition between fast and graceful dogs but evolved into a gambling pastime. Organized dogfighting is illegal in every state. Despite its illegitimacy, or maybe because of it, dogfighting continues to be popular. Its roots lie in the blood sports enjoyed by the ancient Romans at the Coliseum.
All three of these dog sports are largely breed-specific: Malamutes (named for the Malemiut Inupiat tribe) and Siberian huskies compete in sled races, greyhounds in
Reining: Rider maneuvers horse through various moves, including figure-eight patterns, 360 degree spins, and sliding stops.
Cow work: Rider maneuvers horse to control the movements of a running steer, including herding it back and forth along a fence and circling around an arena.
Team penning or sorting: Team of 2 or 3 riders on horseback must cut specifically marked cattle from a herd and herd them to designated areas.
track racing, and pit bulls in fighting. Only sled dog racing pairs humans and dogs during the sporting event. Greyhound racing and dogfighting are dog-only competitions.
There are also a variety of new amateur sporting events that are emerging for dogs. Agility-based competitions, such as catching Frisbees and traversing obstacles, are growing in popularity. One of the newest dog sports is called fly ball. This is a relay event in which teams of dogs compete against each other to jump over hurdles and race to retrieve a ball. In 2000 the International Federation of Cynological Sports (IFCS) was formed in Europe to unite organizations holding dog sports in various countries around the world. (Cynology is the scientific study of canines.) The IFCS is working to bring dog sports, such as agility, to the Olympic Games.
A cock is the adult male of the domestic fowl (Gallus gallus), also known as a rooster. Cocks participate in only one organized sport: cockfighting. Cockfighting is illegal in most states and is considered a blood sport because the roosters that participate are frequently killed or mutilated during the fight.