Update July 1, 2013: Gov. John Kitzhaber has now signed S.B. 835.
Original report: On June 25th 2013 the Oregon House joined the Oregon Senate and passed a ban on the rodeo event of horse tripping. It’s now up to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber to sign the bill, S.B. 835, into law.
Animal Law Coalition has been fighting to end this cruel fringe rodeo event. Horse tripping involves rodeo cowboys roping the front legs of horses, bringing them crashing to the ground. Tripped horses often suffer serious injuries, from broken bones to spinal damage, sometimes dying as a result. Those who survive are usually so psychologically traumatized that they cannot even look at a rope without becoming terrified.
In the last Oregon legislative session opponents of the bill persuaded lawmakers that this event was not taking place in Oregon. We heard arguments that it was a waste of legislative effort to ban a practice that did not exist. Horse tripping does exist in Oregon and Animal Law Coalition set out to prove it. Animal Law Coalition’s Russ Mead went to the Harney County Rodeo in Burns, Oregon on July 7, 2012 and obtained photographs of the event showing horses being slammed to the ground. This was not easy, as rodeo organizers did everything possible to stop Animal Law Coalition from taking these photos.
Animal Law Coalition showed this evidence at both the Oregon House and Senate committee hearings in this legislative session. The graphic photos showed the horses being choked by neck while a second mounted rider roped the horses front legs, bringing the horse to the ground. A cowboy still wearing his spurs came from Central Oregon to testify and told committee members, “There’s no reason to trip a horse.”