Horse Tripping Faces Ban in Arizona

Thelda Williams is working towards banning horse tripping in Phoenix

Newly-elected Phoenix city councilwoman Thelda Williams said her first item of business is to make the sport of horse tripping illegal in Phoenix.

Horse tripping is often the focus of charreadas, or Mexican rodeos. Williams explains that participants in the sport have the horses gallop around a rodeo arena and then pull wires to trip the animals. Horse tripping can also involve competitors chasing a horse and roping it by its legs, causing it to crash to the ground. Williams says the downed horses are often left with broken legs and necks and many have to be euthanized.

Animal welfare organizations have long criticized horse tripping. Such groups want to see the sport outlawed in all states, and they want to see offenders punished as felons.

Horse tripping has been banned in a handful of states, including California, Maine, New Mexico, and Texas, but it is classified as a misdemeanor.

Williams said she first learned of the practice while working with Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff’s office last summer. “I don’t understand the entertainment or the sport of it all because all they’re doing is maiming and killing horses, but it is considered a part of a rodeo and I want it stopped,” she said.

Williams said she’ll present an ordinance banning the sport to the Phoenix City Council later this month.


  1. DO THESE PEOPLE HAVE A LOT OF TIME ON THEIR HANDS????? This is awful, awful way to treat, a horse, and this is suppose to be a SPORT!!! Maybe we should turn this around, and have the horse, chase a man around the ring, and have him fall by a trip wire!!!!!!! And see how long, that would last!! THIS JUST OUTRAGEGOUS!!! And the people that does this should have the same punishment!!! BAN IT!!!!

  2. I think that it is wonderful that someone can finally try to put a stop to such abuse. So many horses are left to suffer. I hope the ban goes through.

  3. I agree with Thelda Williams – horse tripping should be outlawed – its cruelty to horses and the sheriff should arrest those who are involved in such practices – Not to long ago when that rodeo was in Phoenix – I called the Sheriff’s office and they informed me to call the Department of Agriculture – I called the department and they infact told me they were looking into it. After that I didn’t hear anything from them. So lets be one of those States that outlaw horse tripping.

  4. I agree with you all they should put a stop to this stupid act that they are doing to these poor animals. I don’t see how anyone can do stuff like this and then think that it’s funny. I know that they wouldn’t like it if some one done them that way. I say outlaw this stupid stuff!

  5. I wholeheartedly agree that this “sport” that takes advantage of defenseless horses should be stopped. While most rodeo, from barrel racing to goat tying, makes sense to me, this does not serve a purpose and in fact aims to hurt the horses by making them run. I hope it will be a felony to participate in this abusive game!

  6. What a terrible wretched thing to do to a poor horse! It tries to run away because it’s so scared, and for some sick twisted reason people think it’s funny to make it fall over, injuring or killing itself. Sick people.

  7. wow. that is unbelievable. I had never even heard of horse tripping until now. It definately needs to be banned in all states. I don’t know what kind of people think that that is entertainment, it is just plain wrong.

  8. It should be banned immediately! This is horribly inhumane and just torture for the horses! I don’t understand how this can be considered entertainment.

  9. i wasn’t shocked to hear this especially coming from a rodeo. but what they are doing is disgusting and humiliating. it is in no way showing dominance but pure heartlessness.

  10. I didn’t know this existed as it is very cruel. I am so glad Councilwoman Williams brought it to light. All of these atrocious “sports” that exploit animals should be banned. People should be civilized and not get enjoyment at an animal’s expense.

  11. I am completely appauled by Horse tripping and wish it were more than a misdemeanor. Please help to pass this as illegal in Arizona.

  12. I’d like to ask “how do you catch a horse out in a field, when it is dangerous or hurt?” There’s only a few ways. You can build a temporary inclosure, if you have the time. You can try to get the horse to come to you with feed, if you have feed, or if the horse is so inclined. You can try to be a horse whisperer, and coxes it over. This can work with the right horse and the right person. I have meet very few right horses and fewer right persons. You can throw a rope around it’s neck and try to hang it. If your on foot, what will most likely happen is you will be knocked flat on your face and if you don’t let go, you will be dragged. If your on horseback, you can seriously hurt the horse your roping or you and your horse will end up on the ground. Finally you can rope the legs.
    The fact is, charros have four hundred years experience in taking care of large animals. Their experience in taking care of animals, has taught them that roping the legs is the safest and most expedite way to catch a horse that is running. It may not be pretty to the faint of hart, but it is practical and less traumatic on the animal then other methods of capture.
    Horses are large dangerous animals, I have the scars to prove it. My wife does to. A horse can hurt you without intending to do so, just because it got spooked. You are not dealing with a small terrier. One of the problems with people who complain about mangana is the fact that they have never worked large stock.
    The charro in the charreada is maintaining the tradition and the knowledge of how to work large stock. It’s a good and practical tradition that can have relevance to how you care for large animals.
    Randy Janssen

  13. I thought I was aware of most animal abuse atrocities. This is a new one to me. I know “Hollywood” banned horse tripping, once widely used in old Westerns and war movies, but to hear it’s still being used in the name of sport & live entertainment??? Sickening. I applaud the efforts of Ms Williams!!

  14. I am Deb a seinor Investagator with the Equine Rescue and Protection Humane socioety Inc. This so called sport should be banned in all states its inhumane treatment of all equines and should be punishable as fenoly charges and serious jail time these are Gods majestic creatures and should be treated as such cherrised and always cared for, Lets stop all this inhumane treatment, and care for the horses.

  15. The ones taking part in the participation of such a horse (so called) sport are sick and must get mental help. If guilty of such an endeavor prison time must be applied and the loss of the rights to ever take part in horse owning or riding again. who would find this entertaining when it is such cruelty to an animal who brings such love, and happiness to others. I will back Thelda Williams in this endeavor 100% and all of the way. Being in horse all of my life and now still active at 75 yrs. of age and riding I loose sleep over hearing about this activity. Do stop them Thelda and thank you for being alert to this horrible activity. If you ever run for Mayor or Govenor you are my pick. Keep in there!

  16. Hey Mel in Dallas, TX – if you know anything about horses they have a higher center of gravity and more nimble legs. They are sensitve minded and not raised for meat. They are a companion, a friend. Would you do that to a friend? How about I do that to you? Yeah!!! for Ms. Williams!!!

  17. Tradition or not, this is just so wrong. These people need to find something else to do with their spare time instead of playing these hurtful, senseless games with these beautiful, innocent animals. THese animals were not put on this earth for us to treat them this way. People should really take a good look at this and ask themselves, WHY? Why on earth would people want to see these animals falling, being roped…for what? Peoples amusement. It’s senseless and cruel!

  18. Thank you Ms. Williams, for your efforts.
    This an inhumane assault on innocent animals, and should be banned EVERYWHERE!!!.
    Mel in Dallas, where is YOUR research? You’re one of the mindless morons that would let this continue.
    Randy in San Antonio. Thanks for the narrative, you people seem to miss the point. INNOCENT ANIMALS ARE BEING MISTREATED FOR PEOPLES ENTERTAINMENT! Good and practical tradition my rear. Guess you think that some tradition allows cruelty to animals for laughs.
    Why don’t we all think of these poor creatures as ones that we are associated with personally. They are just missing a caring owner to stand up for them.
    My gratitude to anyone and everyone who’s trying to put an end to the inhumane treatment that so many animals endure.

  19. ok we are in 2009, not in 1979 when that picture was taken, come on people get a clue to what your talking about, charros have not been dropping mares in forefooting for over 15 years, across the country, no one does this, everyone knows its taboo to even mention it in the charro community. An the fact of the matter is you dont have any true facts which have never been posted, mentioned or brough in front of anyone. all you got going is the fact that charros are reluctant to defend themselves because they belive they arent doing anything wrong, which they arent, and any one with first hand exprience could tell you.

  20. ooops i hit send too soon. who the hell uses wires to trip horses? are you serious? could this be the most retarded article ever written? i am disgusted by the lack of research this williams has done. seriously get some real information.

  21. There is no excuse for mangana. 400 years of stupidity and cruelty doesn’t make it right. The proponents say if it is done right it is o.k. How do they learn to do it right? By doing it wrong many times at the expense of some poor horse. Also, the events that do this as sport are not serving any purpose. They speak of mad horses and the horse’s fury….horses are usually flight animals and don’t often chase and attack humans. These “events” are enjoyed by neanderthal morons. You would expect this to come from Mexico, just like bullfighting which is reprehensible as well.

  22. I live in a rural area of Southern California, and ended up with a 7 year old little Quarter pony whom I now believe had been ‘tripped’.
    Both his hind legs bore thick scars, and he exhibited such high anxiety whenever his hind limbs were immobilized for more than a few seconds at a time, that we had to tranquilize him each time our shoer came out to trim his hooves.
    He also had some sort of nerve damage in his lower spine, which resulted in ‘foot dragging’ in his hind end after a moderate trail ride.
    The first time our horse shoer saw ‘Lightening’ he said that the horse had been “roped or tripped” most probably at a rodeo. I had never heard of this practice.
    I understand that if you are on a working ranch it is essential to know how to rope livestock. I also think that four or five charros roping and re-roping the same horse in a small enclosure until it’s sides are heaving and it’s fetlocks are maimed and bleeding is like shooting fish in a barrel. Not much of a sport. You need to earn respect, and this ain’t it.

  23. This is a barbaric ritual. What a way to treat an animal that has been a friend and hard-working helper on ranch and farm. That atrocity is a sin! This should be classified as a felony! The horse is a noble creature and should be treated with respect. No animal should be treated so viciously. We humans have been given the gift of knowing what is morally correct. I think that the Catholic church should speak out against this abuse.

  24. I would like to add something to my last comment. I once met a 14 year old girl who happened to be the niece of a fellow athlete from my town. I knew her uncle in wrestling in Junior High School and I met her when I substitute taught in Spanish in her school. Her family has a ranch in eastern Colorado. Like many teenage girls she loved horses and riding. She told me about how one day while she was out on foot on the range with the horses, several coyotes approached. The horses circled up around her and protected her. The horse is a noble animal.

  25. I am appalled at this horse tripping and want to help somehow. I do think Joe Arpio must have something to do with saving our animals also. Thank God for all the people who care about the torture of others. I will be praying for the horses and other animals being abused.

  26. i feel that horsetripping is not a sport it is an abusive act of torture it is my opinion that it should be illegal in this state and stiff penaltys should apply


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