by Marcia Mueller
We have discussed the abuse of horses as manifested by the Bureau of Land Management’s round-ups to accommodate the needs of ranchers for more grazing land. However, there are other horrendous abuses of horses taking place, and one of them is charreria, or horse tripping. This is an incredibly brutal “entertainment” that has found its way into western rodeos in the USA.
According to a description from http://www.visitmexico.com, “Charreria is the official national sport of Mexico. But more than just a sport, it represents Mexican culture, tradition and history as it involves equestrian competitions in which horse riding, roping and cattle handling come in to play.”
And according to Charros Federation USA, that organization promotes “the art of charreria in the USA where culture and tradition is [sic] shared, bringing family and friends together in sportsmanship, honor, and animal welfare.”
So what is abusive in celebrating a national sport that brings family and friends together?
Basically, the event goes like this: A horse is shocked out of a chute and forced into a full gallop by the cowboys, or charros. Then the horse is lassoed by the hind legs (“piales en lienzo”) or the front legs (“piales en lienzo”).
Being jarred into a stop after being in full gallop brings the horses crashing to the ground. Not unexpectedly, the animals receive multiple severe injuries. Those include lacerations, dislocated joints, fractured bones (included spines), teeth, neck, as well as shoulder injuries. Along with those injuries is the unfortunate fact that the horses used for these rodeos are underfed, overused, and repeatedly roped. Some horses have been found with rope burns down to the bone. When horses try to escape by running and jumping fences, they are captured and returned to the arena as the crowd cheers.
There is more to the story. The horses used and abused for these events are often leased from the lots where killer buyers get horses for slaughter. If they survive a rodeo event, they may be sold for a few dollars and pushed onto transport truck, injuries and all, for a long trip to the slaughterhouse. If that trip is to Mexico and if they survive the journey, they are destined for an exceptionally brutal form of killing.
Fortunately, horse tripping has been banned in 11 states, including Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. However, attempts to circumvent animal cruelty regulations continue at county and local events, according to the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee. The ban to stop tripping is being fought by other groups such as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the American Quarter Horse Association, who claims a “voluntary” ban but does not want “regulation” involved.
All rodeo events involve animal cruelty, but charreria is one of the worst, and it needs to be permanently and universally outlawed in this country. Yes, it is a cultural tradition, but that is no excuse for the cruelty inflicted. Diversity brings many good things that our country can be proud of, but diversity in the form of more animal abuse is no cause for celebration.
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