May 9, 2013

Oregon horse tripping bill advances in House

Horse roping or horse tripping is the practice of roping the front or hind legs of a galloping horse, tripping and sending the animal crashing to the ground. Texas, California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Florida, Rhode Island, and Maine have banned equine tripping. Oregon has not yet done so. But a ban on the cruel “sport,” S.B. 835, passed the Senate in April and is now making its way through the Oregon House.

Media covering a Salem hearing on S.B. 835 yesterday quoted State Representative David Gomberg as noting that “horse tripping is alive and very well here in Oregon. Horses used in these events suffer broken legs, broken necks, rope burn, cuts, and abrasions.” The proposed anti-cruelty law would prohibit the practice of rodeo equine tripping, making intentionally roping or lassoing the legs of a horse for entertainment or sport a Class B misdemeanor.

Not surprisingly, rodeo participants and supporters lined up to oppose the anti-cruelty legislation, with one quoted as arguing that “simply roping the legs of a horse is an act that should not be banned.” Such an argument implies that a roped horse is merely laid on the ground after having its legs pulled out from under it while running. But recent Oregon rodeo photos show that horse roping and horse tripping are physically and psychologically traumatizing experiences for the animal.

Animal Law Coalition attorney Russ Mead, who has documented equine tripping at an Oregon rodeo, has explained that the practice “involves riders on horseback chasing a horse and causing the animal to flee. When the horse has reached full speed, a rider lassoes one of the horse’s legs, then stops and pulls back on the rope, causing the horse to trip forward and smash full-force onto the ground. In other so-called horse roping practices, a horse is lassoed about the neck and the rope is then pulled down and taut, driving the animal’s head into the ground.”

As Portland animal law attorneys and animal rights lawyers, we believe strongly that equine roping and tripping is animal cruelty that needs to end. Oregon would do well to pass S.B. 835 without amendments immediately.

Related Animal Law Resources
Full text of Oregon Senate Bill 835
Video Oregon Rodeo Exposed, Horses Roped, Tripped, and Slammed to the Ground
Yuxing Zheng, Oregon Senate Votes to Ban Horse Tripping, Affirm Right to Rodeo, The Oregonian, Apr. 16, 2013.

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