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By Collin Breaux | Email: | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Usually, rodeo riders, Western wear and fun times take over the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in August during the Ranch’s annual rodeo.

Like with many things affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, though, this year is different. The 2020 Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo has been canceled.

The 2020 Annual Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo isn’t happening…at least, not in person as usual. Photo: Allison Jarrell.

An online video—considered a virtual rodeo of sorts—will air in its place on Saturday, Aug. 29, at noon at, and on Rancho Mission Viejo’s YouTube channel. The virtual rodeo will pay tribute to the history of the rodeo and the Ranch and feature remarks from Ranch officials and others.

“It’s sad we’re not having it,” Ranch Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Anthony Moiso said of the canceled rodeo. “You see the pictures (on the video) and realize what a good event it is.”

The 19th annual rodeo was held in 2019. The rodeo generally features top contestants in various events, including bull riding and competitive roping. Moiso said it brings the equestrian community together and is a great local event.

“It helps us as Rancho Mission Viejo celebrates our history of ranching,” Moiso said.

Gilbert Aguirre, Executive Vice President of Ranch Operations and President of the Rodeo, said it’s a way to share their Western and cowboy traditions with everyone.

“We’ve taken it to some great heights in the 19 years we’ve had it,” Aguirre said.

The RMV Rodeo has also helped the Ranch raise money for various charities, including the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center.

The event requires an arena and takes money and time, and is only possible with sponsors and financial contributors. Those backers now face economic challenges in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Asking them to contribute as usual during these hard times didn’t feel appropriate, Moiso said.

Saturday’s virtual rodeo is expected to keep the event topical and could be a kickoff to the rodeo returning proper in 2021, conditions permitting.

“We bring a lot of our pals from all over the West,” Moiso said of the usual in-person events.

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comments (6)

  • It is startling to read that this rodeo makes a donation to a therapeutic riding center that offers
    help to people who have a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional difficulties.

    Think about it. Veterinarians and animal protection groups have repeatedly shown
    that rodeos cause severe external and internal injuries to innocent animals that result in their
    immediate or delayed deaths, raw suffering, and pure terror. And while the rodeo is doing this,
    it tosses out a few dollars to innocent people who have also suffered.

    I guess that makes the rodeo people feel good about themselves in spite of the misery they
    bring to animals and the cruelty they celebrate and try to disguise.

  • Be aware that nearly EVERY animal welfare organization in North America condemns rodeo due to its inherent cruelty. Animal injuries and deaths are routine. I was present at the 1995 California Rodeo in Salinas when FIVE animals suffered and died. Only in the aftermath of the mayhem did the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) begin requiring on-site vets at their events. Some “sport”!

    Indeed, rodeo is not a “sport” at all. That term denotes willing, evenly-matched participants. Rodeo does not qualify. Rather, it’s a macho exercise in DOMINATION, and often sexist at that.

    Rodeo belongs in the dustbin of history, along with Ringling Bros. Circus, SeaWorld’s banned orca shows, and greyhound racing (outlawed in Florida in 2018 via ballot initiative.) Can rodeo be far behind?


    – Eric Mills, coordinator for ACTION FOR ANIMALS

  • Ethical sponsors should donate directly to the charities in need and stop supporting egregious animal cruelty and killing.

    As stated in the article, rodeos are not self-sustaining and that is because civilized people know not to support animal cruelty and killing. Only neanderthals attend rodeos which is why financial support is needed from other sources.

    Here is an example of their “Western cowboy ranching traditions”:

    Time to wake up and evolve!

  • Tormenting animals for “fun” in the rodeo is condemned by anyone with a conscience.

  • As a veterinarian and lawyer who works with the police on animal abuse cases, I can tell you that if any farmer was filmed or caught driving spurs into a horse, busting a calf, or wrestling a steer he would be prosecuted under our cruelty to animals law.
    As a former large animal ranch veterinarian, ranchers do not treat their animals like animals are treated in rodeos.
    It is time to end animal abuse in rodeos. Take away calf roping, spurs and the bucking strap and rodeo would be no longer cruel. Animals in rodeos need to feel pain and fear in order to give the competitors the points they need to win. This is unacceptable.

comments (6)

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