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Oregon Bill to Ban Horse Tripping

A horse tripped at Big Loop. Photo credit Shark.

Horses were roped around their legs and neck and thrown to the ground from a gallop in a practice called horse tripping at a May 2012 rodeo in Jordan Valley, Ore. A graphic video of the events from the Big Loop Rodeo was posted on YouTube shortly after and an outcry against the practice began. Now, horse lovers have asked the Oregon Legislature to ban the practice, and SB 835 that would end horse tripping, while prohibiting treating rodeos less favorably than other events, has been introduced.

Sarah Sellin-Eiler, a Portland jewelry story owner who has been riding horses since she was 6 years old, says she’s not affiliated with any big animal activist groups, but after hearing about horse tripping, seeing the videos and researching the practice she asked Oregon Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) to introduce a bill similar to one that had been brought to the Legislature in 2011. That bill died in committee. 

Hass did so, and after a March 25 hearing before the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, a section was added that put in a “rodeo bill of rights.” It was added in an effort to make the bill more bipartisan Sellin-Eiler says. The bill is sponsored by Hass, a Democrat, and Republican Bill Hansell, whose district includes Pendleton, home to the Pendleton Round-Up. 

Sellin-Eiler says the rodeo bill of rights reaches out to the rodeo-goers who believe banning horse tripping is “a stepping stone to banning calf roping, which is not my intention at all.” 

She testified at the hearing, along with other horse advocates, and she says one reason the bill specifically protects horses from roping for entertainment is because “the center of gravity for horses is much different from cows.” She says, cows have a shorter way to fall, their legs are shorter and a horse’s legs are more apt to break when roped. She points out that riders go to great lengths to protect their horse’s delicate legs. 

Opponents of the previous bill to ban horse tripping claimed that the practice didn’t happen in Oregon, but Sellin-Eiler says in addition to the Big Loop Rodeo, a charreada or Mexican rodeo near Portland has also engaged in the practice. She says the bill prevents tripping horses and bringing horses to the ground for entertainment, but would not stop a ranch owner from roping a horse around the neck to catch it. 

She says the hearing was the first time she’d stepped foot in the state Capitol and “It’s been fabulous; both Republicans and Democrats were so gracious and kind.” Sellin-Eiler says she expects SB 835 to come up for a hearing in the near future. The bill can be seen at http://wkly.ws/1g3