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Oregon Legislature Approves Ban on Cruel Horse Tripping

Gov. Kitzhaber urged to sign

The Oregon legislature passed legislation to ban a cruel rodeo event called horse tripping, which involves roping the front legs of a galloping horse, causing it to crash violently into the ground. With a vote of 24-6, the state Senate concurred with House-approved amendments to SB 835, sponsored by Sens. Mark Hass, D-14, and Bill Hansell, R-29, and Rep. David Gomberg, D-10. The Humane Society of the United States urged Gov. John Kitzhaber to sign the bill, which would make horse tripping a Class B misdemeanor.

Horse tripping in Oregon occurs in “Big Loop” rodeos in which  two mounted horsemen chase a horse, usually a small yearling, into the arena and rope its front legs as it travels at a fast gallop. It also happens in clandestine charreada rodeos, where a single roper on foot ropes the front legs of a horse as it gallops past him in the arena. When the front legs of a galloping horse are roped, the animal trips and falls violently to the ground. Witnesses to horse tripping events in Oregon reported young horses being so severely injured that they were unable to stand, and were therefore dragged from the arena so the practice could resume.

Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for The HSUS, said: “Horse tripping events are traumatizing for the animals and can cause catastrophic injuries such as broken legs, necks and backs. Watching a horse fall to the ground and suffer is not entertainment—it’s inhumane and has no place in Oregon. We are grateful to Senator Mark Hass and Representatives David Gomberg and Val Hoyle for their strong and principled leadership in moving this bill through the legislative process, and we urge Gov. Kitzhaber to swiftly sign this measure into law.”

Only horse tripping that occurs for entertainment or sport, or as practice for entertainment or sport, will be prohibited. Roping horses for purposes of providing veterinary care is specifically exempted, as is the unintended, accidental tripping of a horse.

Horse tripping facts:

  • Horse tripping has been banned in 11 other states, including states with strong rodeo traditions, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The practice has been banned in film and television productions for over 50 years.
  • Many horses who have been used in tripping events remain unsuitable for use as companions or riding animals. 
  • Horse tripping is not sanctioned by mainstream rodeo.  The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the National Pro Rodeo Association do not feature horse tripping as a sanctioned event. 
  • Horse tripping at Mexican charro rodeos has been documented in areas near Portland.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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