Do you believe horse tripping is animal cruelty?
JORDAN VALLEY, Ore. -- One of Eastern Oregon's longest running events celebrated its 50th anniversary this weekend in Jordan Valley.
The annual Big Loop Rodeo attracts big numbers to the area, bringing in economic support every year.
Also in attendance this year -- an animal activist group that believes that one popular event is nothing more than cruelty to animals.
“We simply sit in the stands and filmm, and then we let the media like you or lawmakers and sponsors or just people at large, let them know what’s going on,” said Steve Hindi of SHARK, which stands for Showing Animals Respect and Kindness.
Saturday, a volunteer with SHARK was arrested by Malheur County deputies for disorderly conduct after he was asked to not video tape during the event, but refused.
After his release Sunday, 30-year-old Adam Fahnestock told KTVB that deputies took his camera and threw him to the ground. Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said that Fahnestock was breaking the rules of the rodeo by videotaping it, and was resisting arrest.
SHARK captured video at the 2012 Jordan Valley Big Loop the group believes shows animal cruelty. The images have caused controversy, and because of that, rodeo representatives chose not to allow cameras inside the arena anymore.
Oregon Senator Mark Hass is a Democrat out of Beaverton. Hass says he was inspired by SHARK’s video to introduce Senate Bill 835 that would put an end to the horse roping event.
The bill's supporters call the rodeo event "horse tripping" and say it's cruel. Opponents say horse-roping is a standard practice in animal husbandry.
The event is timed, and as cowboys ride out of the gates one lassoes the horse’s neck while other lassoes the horse’s two front legs. According to the event's website, the event ends when the animal is secured, "when stock is roped and both horses face stock in line with ropes dallied tight."
WHAT THE VIDEO SHOWS
However, SHARK’s video captures a horse’s body being lunged forward when the legs are lassoed and falling on its head, at another point a horse’s head gets trapped under its body.
“All we do is take pictures or video. That is what we do, and yes we do circulate it, but that is what we do,” said Hindi. “Our main job is simply to document and expose.”
SHARK’s YouTube video can be seen HERE.
The Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo is the only known rodeo in the state to run this event.
Vern Kershner, the president of the Jordan Valley Rodeo Board says his group has been very transparent about their event for several years. Kershner also says that the rodeo's videotaping rule is modeled after the same policy as Boise State University.
BILL HEADS TO HOUSE
Senate 835 has passed in the Senate and is on its way to the House. If this legislation passes into Oregon law, it would mean that roping a horse by the legs would be illegal for entertainment, but veterinarians and ranchers would still be able to do it.
Fahnestock was released from jail Sunday night and will have to appear back in Malheur County court for his charges.
Sheriff Wolfe said the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo operates privately and has the authority to not allow cameras inside.