Controversial Horse Roping Event Held in Tremonton (Video)


From the Editor of the Utah Trotter: The following story originally appeared on, and the author was kind enough to allow the Trotter to syndicate this story. It originally ran December 5, 2013.
From: The Utah Trotter
By: Robyn Van Valkenburg

A Young Horse Being Roped at the  Tremonton Horse Roping in November, 2013 photo courtesy of Robyn Van Valkenburg

A Young Horse Being Roped at the
Tremonton Horse Roping in November, 2013
photo courtesy of Robyn Van Valkenburg

Forty horses were unloaded from a double-decker livestock hauler on Nov. 23 at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds. They were young – only about a year old – and were brought to be used during Saturday evening’s sport.

These horses were not for riding, but for roping.

One by one, a foal was chased from a chute at the north end of the indoor arena by a man with a whip. Teams of two ropers on horseback pursued the loose horse until one threw a loop around the horse’s neck. The foal buckled down on the choke and hopped a few steps forward. The other team member roped the horse’s front legs and it stumbled to the ground with a thud. It laid there for a moment, caught its breath and regained its senses. The colt was then dragged out of the arena by its neck.

Horse roping, also called horse tripping, is a rodeo event banned in California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

But it is legal in Utah, and many who attended the event believe it should stay that way.

“This is the Vaquero way,” said Boyd Udy, a volunteer who herded the roped horses into the chutes where their necks and legs were freed from the loops. “This is how the ranchers doctor their horses.”

Vaquero is a centuries-old tradition of horse training and livestock handling of Spanish origins. Some consider the tradition to be rougher than more modern practices. There is a considerable diversity of belief, however, of what the tradition entails.
For competitor Sonny Munns, the attraction to horse roping is simple.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s a hobby.”

Before the event began, Shawn Judkins, who owns the yearlings, gathered the ropers to discuss the rules. He said that he had not anticipated the 162 teams that showed up to rope two horses each, but that they would still rope the 40 horses that he brought. He outlined a few rules and told the competitors that they would be disqualified for handling the stock in a rough manner. By the mid-point of the event, many of the foals were missing hair around their neck and had rope burns across their bodies. One colt had a gash on his forehead. Another limped.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • FRICKING Bunch of Horrible pieces of inhumane garbage !!!!!!! Criminals whom all should be jailed and the key thrown away !!!!! I Have ZERO tolerance on this………………. Then people there should have made a such a ruckass , and totally stop this HORROR !!!!!!

    December 9, 2013
  • If you will come and PAY to watch they would kill their mothers !!!!!!!!

    December 9, 2013
  • Colleen Sayre

    It amazes me that double decker stock trailers are still in use for transporting horses anywhere in the US. Back in 1995 Sharon Johnston of Horse Power Protection Projects Inc. took one horse and an empty double decker to the CA state capitol where she invited state reps to walk inside and examine the 15 hand horse as it stood inside. It was obvious even to the most ignorant that a horse could not be humanely transported for any distance or keep its balance while holding its head down to protect itself from head injury. The consequences of roping a young horse even one time, let alone multiple times, is likely to be permanent spinal damage called wobblers syndrome. It is an inexcusable activity in the name of sport. We, as humans are supposed to be evolving and 20 years later, we have made so little progress in preventing the abuse of horses in the name of “sport” or “custom”. It was customary for the men in caveman society to drag the woman by her hair -just try that stunt now boys.

    December 9, 2013
  • Lucy Shelton

    This is a totally disgusting display of cruelty to horses, and only one year old,–not fully developed! Roping each terrified youngster 8 times! This must end!

    December 9, 2013
  • this is an ART form? a custom of ancient and noble tradition? A SPORT??????? it looked more like a bad joke, a bad rendition of the Keystone Cops, it is plain simple cruelty, far and away inappropriate and to teach children this is an acceptable way to handle stock is unimaginable.

    December 9, 2013
  • Wendy

    Once again those “Pseudo Macho Cowboys” are entertaining their tiny brains with a “sport” that they think defines them as superior human beings. How pathetic that they have to take out their frustrations on a creature so young it’s completely bewildered and subserviant.

    December 10, 2013
  • well, they could HAVE my mother….just sayin’,,,,, I would like to see each brave “vaquero” roped and dragged EIGHT times, I couldn’t watch past the second colt that looked like a modern halter Arabian,,, perhaps one of the discards’ of the big name trainers that ‘didn’t make the grade’ and was dumped for a life of brutality. I would have been arrested, if I were there, bc I would have let the colts OUT, or done some other very disruptive thing. This is inexcusable, and frankly, a REAL vaquero would value a horse and NOT break babies for entertainment. NIMO

    December 10, 2013
  • sherriey

    ….ooooooooo…now there’s REAL men, for ya!

    December 10, 2013
  • Eric Mills

    There are another couple dozen comments at the end of the article (click on “continued”).


    December 11, 2013