Friday, May 16, 2014

Horse roping or horse tripping? Jordan Valley rodeo exposes Oregon culture clash

Almost a year after the Oregon Legislature banned horse tripping for entertainment, animal-rights activists remain fearful the practice will continue at the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo this weekend. Jordan Valley rodeo board members have long disputed the term "horse tripping," instead calling their signature event "horse roping." In any case, footage (see below) apparently filmed at last year's event, showing a horse go end over end, reignited a controversy and led to the statewide ban. The practice involves lassoing a horse around the neck, then around the forelegs. This causes the horse -- often at rapid speeds -- to crash to the ground. Semantics aside, it's an issue as much cultural as technical: Horse tripping is done at a handful of remote Oregon rodeos, but the bill was driven in part by Portland-area legislators -- Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, was a co-sponsor of the bill. Jordan Valley Mayor Jake Roe said he made the eight-hour trek to Salem last year to testify against the bill and explain horse roping. But, he said, there was a disconnect. "We actually had to get out a map to show those senators where we were from," Roe said. "If they've never come to see the rodeo, I'm not sure they know what they're talking about." The rodeo is the pride of Jordan Valley. Every third weekend in May, thousands descend upon the eastern Oregon town to see a weekend of roping, riding and racing. The "big loop" competition distinguishes the event from your run-of-the-mill rodeo. And in a town made up mostly of ranchers, it's also steeped in tradition...more

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