History of Horse tripping

History of Horse tripping

Horse tripping is the practice of roping the front or hind legs of a galloping horse, on foot or horseback, — causing it to trip and come crashing to the ground — for the purposes of entertainment or sport. This cruel and inhumane activity is practiced in 3 of the 9 events held in the charreada, or Mexican-style rodeo. The tripping is intentional, and points are awarded for dropping the horse.

The 3 events which include tripping are:

  • piales en la lienzo — roping of the hind legs of a horse
  • manganas a pie — tripping or felling of a horse from on foot
  • manganas a caballo — tripping or felling a horse from horseback


Charro Rodeo History

The charreada is the national sport of Mexico. It is a time-honored tradition dating back to 16th century Spain and brought to the Americas after the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1520. In the early 1700s, the “sport” moved to the Mexican ranch where ranchers roped steers and bucking horses in a display of their skill, horsemanship, and machismo. In the 1950s and ’60s, charro associations began to crop up in the U. S., eventually becoming established in six states in the Midwest and Southwest (Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, and Texas). Today, charreada competitions are overseen by 84 charro federations.

Cruelty versus Culture

The charreada is based on the idea that the charro (Mexican cowboy) is a brave and skilled horseman to “confront the fury of a wild horse” and bring the animal down. This is nothing more than a romantic legend, and has little to do with the way the rodeos are practiced today. At these “rodeos” the frightened animals are lassoed and tripped repeatedly during the 3 events. Horses that try to escape by jumping over fences or walls are only captured and brought back to be subjected to more torment — all to the cheers of the spectators. “Killer” buyers purchase unwanted horses at auction with the intention of selling them to slaughter, but along the way they have found that they can “rent” the animals out to the charro rodeos. Sometimes they get the animal back where it is then sent off to slaughter, but often the animal has sustained such horrific injuries that they are either destroyed at the rodeo or simply die in the truck due to their injuries others are subjected to the added cruelty of slaughter.

Number of Horses Used

There are no hard statistics are available on the number of horses used in charro rodeos. Most of these rodeos are not sanctioned or take place at small arenas without oversight. A source at one Riverside, CA feedlot reported that during one season before horse tripping was banned the lot leased 25 horses per weekend to two different charro rodeos. Approximately 2 to 5 of these horses displayed injuries serious enough that the animals were sent to slaughter every week. For each animal that went to slaughter, another from the feedlot replaced it on the charro circuit. During the 1992 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.

Horse Tripping Injuries

The intentional tripping of horses for sport or entertainment purposes has long been banned by both the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at its sanctioned events and by the film and television industries, as monitored by the American Humane Association. Horse tripping differs from the popular rodeo event of calf-roping. Horses are large animals with a high center of gravity, capable of traveling at fast speeds on fragile legs, while calves are smaller animals with a low center of gravity moving at slower speeds on much sturdier limbs.

Outlawing Horse Tripping

On August 26, 1994, California Governor Pete Wilson signed into law a bill banning the intentional tripping of horses for entertainment or sport. 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 breeder and racing associations. Hispanic organizations also endorsed the legislation. The banning of intentional horse tripping for entertainment does not end the Mexican charreada tradition, merely the 3 events involving an act which inflicts needless suffering on animals.

Horse-tripping is so cruel that it has been banned in other U.S. states, California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, in film and TV production, by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), and by the American Quarter Horse Association. As of this writing, the practice has spread to Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado (where it has been a part of their state fair rodeo program) and the eastern region of Washington state.