Horse tripping is just what it sounds like: people trip horses, horses fall down. The surprising next step: people applaud and cheer. These audiences would have loved the Coliseum’s “Christian vs. Lion” series.
Tripping originated in Mexican rodeos, or charreadas. Charros (cowboys) compete to trip the horse faster than anyone else. Here’s how it works:
They release a horse from a chute — often shocking the horse with an electric prod — and a group of waiting charros force the horse into a full gallop. One of [the] charros — either on horseback or on the ground — lassos the front or hind legs of the horse, causing the animal to come crashing down to the ground. Charros prefer small, lightweight horses because they are easier to bring down. Witnesses have noted that the charros continue to trip horses during charreadas until they are lame or can no longer run. Horses sustain multiple serious injuries, including broken legs and necks, and spinal damage. Horses who try to escape by jumping over fences or walls are only captured and brought back to the arena for more torture to the cheers of the crowd.
The source of the rodeos’ horses makes clear that no one expects them to recover from these injuries. Many of them come from slaughter-houses that already own the horses or feedlots that plan to sell them to slaughter-houses, but want to squeeze a few extra bucks out of the doomed animals before killing them. They lease horses to the charreadas. Horses who suffer serious injuries in the rodeos are returned to the slaughter-house, where they are killed.
One person who leased horses to charreadas estimates that of the 75 to 100 horses he leased out, only two survived.
Horse tripping is illegal in many states, including Florida, Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. “Enforcement, however, is difficult as many charreadas are conducted in remote areas.”
Nevada’s legislature is currently considering a bill that would outlaw horse tripping. The state Senate’s Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed the bill. It is now before the full Senate, which must pass it by April 23 according to Kevin O’Neill, Senior Legislative Director for the ASPCA’s Western Region. Both the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States participated in a humane lobby day in Nevada this year that included discussions with legislators about banning horse tripping.
Nevada residents, you can tell your state representatives to ban horse tripping by going to www.leg.state.nv.us and clicking on “Share Your Opinion on Legislative Bills” on the right side of the window.
People inside and outside of Nevada can sign our petition, which we will send as an open letter to the Las Vegas Sun.
Photo credit: iStockphoto