Ariz. House Approves Horse Tripping Ban, Bill Moves to Senate
PHOENIX – Nearly two months ago the Arizona House of Representatives’ Water and Agriculture Committee introduced a bill that would ban horse tripping to the House floor.
Now, HB 2539 was approved with a 54-2 vote on March 31 and moves to Arizona’s Senate, where the bill which would make the deliberate roping of a horse’s legs for sport a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable up to six months in jails and a $2,500 fine.
Sponsored by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix), the bill also applies to donkeys, mules and ponies and was proposed in response to the influx of the Mexican-style rodeo event to the state.
Arizona is the last southwestern state to ban the rodeo event, while lawmakers in California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas have already outlawed horse tripping.
Despite the broad support of the law, two Arizona representatives found flaw in the bill.
“We already have animal cruelty laws,” Rep. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) said in an interview with Cronkite News Service. “I’m not going to put somebody in jail because somebody trips a horse. I’ve been around horses my whole life, I’ve rodeoed my whole life, and I don’t know of anyone going around tripping horses. I think it’s just a silly bill.”
Rep. Judy Burges (R-Chino Valley) was the other nay vote on the bill, which Sinema contends does not duplicate existing laws.
As reported by the Cronkite News Service, Sinema explained rodeos are exempt from prosecution under current animal cruelty laws, while HB 2539 would not interfere with traditional Western show events such as barrel jumping, steeplechase, racing or branding.
Previously, Sinema told Pet Pulse the event in the past five years was growing in popularity as horse-trippers sought refuge in the state to practice and compete in the event.
Horse tripping is not a standard ranching practice anywhere in the U.S., nor is it sanctioned by any American-style rodeo association, such as the PRCA or IPRA.
But it typically occurs in small rodeos held in neighborhoods or private ranches in what some have compared to the underground world of dog-fighting.
Horse tripping usually involves cowboys forcing a horse into a full gallop. Once up to speed, another horseman will lasso the front or hind legs of the horse, causing it to trip forward at full force.
From the fall, horses often suffer serious and even fatal injuries, including lacerations, broken knees, necks and shoulders, as well as spinal injuries.
Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska are also considering legislation against the event this session.
Robin Wallace, Pet Pulse, and Jeremy Thomas, Cronkite News Service, contributed to this article.
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