Horse Tripping Fact Sheet

“You are in the front row. A bony Arabian mare stands so close you can see the scars on her flanks, and the terror in her eyes. Three men on horseback swoop down on the mare, chasing her with swinging lariats, until she’s galloping 25 miles an hour. Each time the mare races round the ring, a fourth man aims a rope at the mare’s forelegs. The goal: to topple her to the ground, and win points.

This mare has already been lassoed several times―those scars you saw were rope burns that carved away inches of her flesh. But this time the mare won’t get up again. She crashes head over heels, breaks her leg, and is euthanized.”

― AMBUJA ROSEN, Independent Journalist.

CHARREADAS (or Charreria) are Mexican-style rodeos, and a national sport in its home country. Charreadas are as big in Mexico as the NFL Superbowl is in the United States.

This cruel and horrific “sport” has now infiltrated the United States, mostly in western states.

There are ten individual competitions in a Charreada, six of which involve horses, and are all barbaric, cruel and deadly.

Horse Tripping Events

The second, seventh and eighth events are the ones most often targeted by horse welfare advocates. These events involve what is commonly referred to in the U.S. as “horse tripping.”

Competing cowboys, called charros, are awarded points literally for tripping horses, and how quickly they can do it.

First they release a horse from a chute, often shocking the horse with an electric prod (sound familiar?). A group of waiting charros force the horse into a full gallop.

The competing charro – 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 repeatedly reported 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.

There are no statistics available on the number of horses used in charro rodeos. They are not typically privately owned, but instead leased as they do not normally survive.

Horse Slaughter Connection

One source of horses for leasing to charro rodeos are feedlots.

Killer buyers employed by slaughterhouses lease out horses for the charreada circuit to make extra money from them before selling the horses to horse slaughter plants.

Before horse tripping was banned in California, a source at a Riverside feedlot reported they leased 25 horses per weekend to two different charro rodeos.

Upon their return, approximately 2 to 5 horses per week displayed injuries serious enough that the animals were sent to slaughter.

For each horse that went to slaughter, another from the feedlot replaced them on the charro circuit.

During that particular season, 75 to 100 horses were leased from that particular lot to the two charro rodeos, but only 2 of the original horses survived until the season’s end. [1]

Outlawing Horse Tripping in the U.S.

In 1994, Governor Pete Wilson signed a bill into law banning the intentional tripping of horses for sport or entertainment in California.

The bill was supported by numerous groups including the California Veterinary Medical Association, the American Horse Protection Association, the California Council of Police and Sheriffs, the California District Attorney’s Association, the Great American Cowboy Association, and breeding and racing associations.

Hispanic organizations also endorsed the California legislation including the Mexican American Chamber of Commerce.

Horse tripping has been outlawed in the following U.S. states (as of this writing):

Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas.

Enforcement, however, is difficult as many charro rodeos are conducted in remote areas. In some States reports are that the law is not being enforced, such as Oregon.

Image from horse tripping event in Oregon where it is illegal. To date law enforcement have ignored all calls to put a stop to it. (September 2019)

Horse tripping is still taking place in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado (where it has become a part of their State Fair rodeo program) and the eastern region of Washington state, where there are currently no bans.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management conducts helicopter round ups of America’s iconic wild horses in those states. Not coincidentally, America’s federally protected Mustangs have been spotted in these charro events.

The practice of horse tripping has also been banned in film and TV production, by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and the American Quarter Horse Association.

Outlawing horse slaughter would not only protect horses from entering the slaughter pipeline, but also remove them as a major source of horses for charreada events, striking a significant blow to this cruel and barbaric “sport”.

[1] Source: Ambuja Rosen, Independent Journalist. Rosen’s work has appeared in more than 60 publications. Note: We are no longer in contact with Ms. Rosen.

Additional Resources

See also images, States where horse tripping is illegal including Statutes and our exclusive Special Reports »

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Updated: Sept 12, 2019