Clark County commissioners face a decision Tuesday that will require some horse sense.
County commissioners will have a public hearing and vote on an ordinance that would allow horse roping events in which the equines are captured by the legs, with the intent of releasing them without tripping.
The proposed change comes on the heels of legislation that Nevada lawmakers passed this session. That state law defined and banned horse tripping as the roping of the legs of equines with the intention of tripping.
It’s an issue of particular importance to those involved in charreada events, which celebrate the cultural heritage of rodeos in Mexico. At charreada events, horses are roped by the legs.
The new state law does allow horse roping events where the animals are caught by the legs and released, provided the event has a permit from the local government.
The county ordinance under consideration is tied to that part of the law, which allows local governments to regulate such events. The county currently bans horse tripping, which was in place before the new state law. That ban would remain in effect.
Under the county proposal, roping horses by the legs and then releasing them at events would be allowed, with other requirements.
For example, the event must have a rodeo permit under county code. A veterinarian would need to be at the event, and it would need rules approved by the county animal control supervisor that are aimed at minimizing risk to the animal. Intentional tripping still wouldn’t be allowed, under the county’s proposal.
The horse roping ordinance has drawn fire from animal rights activists, who believe the state’s horse roping law has loopholes. On the other side are charreada event organizers, who maintain that the goal of horse roping isn’t to trip the animals in the first place.
Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals, calls the state law’s change and its potential impact on the county ordinance a matter of faulty wordplay. Instead of allowing intentional tripping, she said, it would allow unintentional tripping.
“I don’t care what disaster they created at the state level,” she said. “That does not mean it needs to run downhill and it needs to impact us.”
A World Series of Charreria Las Vegas 2013 event is planned for Sept. 25-29 at the South Point Arena & Equestrian Center.
Luis Banuelos, of El Paso, Texas-based World’s Best Charro Events, is planning the show.
“We’re not tripping the mares,” he said, speaking through a translator, his daughter, Yesenia Banuelos. “We’re not hurting the mares.”
He stressed that the event has strict rules that must be followed, and a veterinarian will be at the event. Banuelos said the event will abide by all ordinances.
The goal is to give a good cultural experience to all attendees without any negativity, he said.
He has an ally in Commissioner Tom Collins, who disagrees with the approach of animal rights activists. Collins
said Clark County’s Hispanic community deserves a chance to celebrate its heritage, and charreada events are already humane with existing rules against horse tripping.
“They like to show off their skills from their heritage and culture,” Collins said. “One of those skills is lassoing a horse.”
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-405-9781.