JORDAN VALLEY, Ore. – The Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo Board believes they are being targeted by an animal rights group whose members have been videotaping their horse roping event.
Board President Vern Kershner tells KTVB that the act of horse roping goes back many years to when cowboys used the technique to train wild horses and doctor them.
“Animal rights people have an agenda,” said Kershner in a phone interview.
He believes the animal activist group called SHARK, or Showing Kindness and Respect to Animals, is trying to shut all rodeos down.
Thirty-year-old Washington resident Adam Fahnestock was arrested Saturday at the Jordan Valley event for disorderly conduct. Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said Fahnestock was videotaping at the rodeo, and when asked to stop, he became combative with deputies.
Fahnestock is a volunteer with SHARK.
The group has been after the Jordan Valley Big Loop event after posting controversial videos of the event on their YouTube channel of horses falling.
The event involves the lassoing of a horses neck by one cowboy then another cowboy lassoing both the legs.
However, Kershner said the horses do not fall all the time during the event and they are not injured. He said the video only shows the fall and doesn’t show the horses getting back up, uninjured and trotting off.
He also said that YouTube video, seen here, which is produced by SHARK, has not financially hurt the rodeo whatsoever.
This event is a big draw for Jordan Valley every year.
Kershner said crowds in the thousands come each year to specifically watch the horse roping event and because of that, the community gets big economic support for this weekend alone.
He said if a recently proposed bill to ban horse roping goes through the Oregon Legislature it will pose a problem for this time honored event.
The Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo board is made up of 21 members, all ranchers according to Kershner who says all of them have experience in handling horses.
Senate Bill 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.