Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Horse tripping

Happy Canada Day!!

So through my research on gaited breeds and atrocities within the horse industry, I ran across the following youtube video:

Now, I am not always a fan of the SPCA nor the HSUS (that's another story for another time), but they are absolutely correct in this situation. On the other hand, there is always another side to a story...but I am having great difficulty determining a supportive side to this. Most disheartening...the crowd. As the commentator points out, they cheer hardest for the worser the fall to the horse - the most damage and pain incurred by the horse. I fail to see anything to cheer about? What is wrong with these sick, sick people?

I hear also a rumour that this sport is touted, by its supporters, as "tradition" - thereby making it ethically acceptable (of course!). Well, I have to point out that slavery could be considered tradition. So could soring horses (which has been occurring for a good 60 years or so). Or scalping. What about genocide? I mean, seriously, where do we draw the line? Does tradition automatically trump ethics?

Roping horses is, for the most part, no longer a necessity (not this way, anyway - a wrangler quietly roping his mount for the morning, with no struggle, is a different story - even wild horses can be roped more efficiently with dramatically less harm to the horse). Most horses can be herded into a smaller area and worked gently. I can personally attest to this, having done it with several untouchable horses recently. I never roped a single one, despite them being in large fields at the time. If I had, it still could have been done in a much quieter and more beneficial manner, with a goal of keeping the stress level of the horse as low as possible. If a horse must absolutely be roped, it can certainly be done quieter! Furthermore, roping any horse - particularly as dramatically and unskillfully as this - is not only stressful to them emotionally but also physically and is something that should be kept to a minimum. Practise roping skills on a sturdy older steer, a wooden sawhorse, etc.

Horse tripping, however, is an entirely different story. Most of the horses in the above video were roped head first, then taken down by the fronts. That was bad enough. With horse tripping (Mexico), the horse is roped, while running full-out, by his fronts. Well, according to physics, all that energy has to go somewhere with a sudden stop. It does. Into the horse's spine. This not only sets the horses up for permanent, or even fatal, spinal injury, it also almost guarantees misalignment. Just from a human perspective, when my neck is misaligned, I experience 10/10 pain migraines, to the point where I can barely function. The back of my neck will feel swollen and sore and I avoid using my neck as much as possible until I can make my way in to my chiropractor. That happens when I so much as sleep on the wrong pillow!! Nevermind if I was tossed, heels over head, with my neck smashed into the ground!

All in all, a dangerous "sport" that, in my personal opinion, should be abolished, not encouraged. We can start with the crowd.


OldMorgans said...

Not to mention leg injuries, including broken bones, cuts & bruises, and instilling permanent and total fear into that horse. Cock fighting is sort of a tradition also, but is illegal in the US. Horse tripping should be banned. The Charros can keep the rest of their tradition without this.

Unfiltered Meghan said...

I never understood how anyone could get their jollies watching anything like this - horse fighting, horse tripping, cock fighting dog fighting, etc. Similarly, I could never attend a bullfight. Then again, I never saw the humor in things like America's Funniest Home Videos where people laugh at the pain and misfortune of others. Unfortunately, I'm in the minority. I even have a hard time watching racing anymore.

I wish that all the people who were into this sort of thing had to be privy to the aftermath of their entertainment.

paul said...

Horse tripping ("manganas") is a standard event at Mexican rodeos called "charreadas," common throughout the American Southwest. Charreria (which includes charreadas) is the national sport of Mexico, and dates back to the 1600's. There are nine standard charreada events, only three of which have American counterparts: bareback bronc, bull riding, and team roping.

Horse tripping is done in two styles: "manganas a pie" (on foot); and "manganas a caballo" (from horseback). In both these events the horse is lassoed at full gallop by the front legs to bring her down, sometimes head-over-heels. There's a third event called "piales," which involves lassoing the HIND legs of a running horse. Vets have told me that this can be even more dangerous for the horse than manganas.

California was the first state in the U.S. to ban horse tripping, back in 1994. I was that bill's original sponsor. Since then, seven other states have followed suit: Texas, Maine, Oklahoma, Illinois, Florida, New Mexico and Nebraska. Arizona is in the process and may done so. Nebraska last year also banned the equally brutal "steer tailing" event ("las colas"). Tails and legs are sometimes broken, and the horses may have their legs broken when the steer runs the wrong way. Check YouTube and Google for videos.

There's a great need for a ban in every state and Canada. These practices often follow the migrant farm workers. Ask your legislators to ban this cruelty before it comes to your state or province.

I have copies of the California and Nebraska laws available upon request.

Eric Mills, coordinator
P.O. Box 20184
Oakland, California 94620
email -

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