I-Team: Decision Possible in Horse Roping Controversy - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Decision Possible in Horse Roping Controversy

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Mark Keyser and his horse Blue. He opposes horse roping. Mark Keyser and his horse Blue. He opposes horse roping.

LAS VEGAS -- Horse roping is called animal cruelty by some, and living history by others.

Clark County commissioners will decide at Thursday's meeting on whether to ban rodeos with controversial horse roping events.

Horse roping usually takes place at traditional Latin American rodeos, including one scheduled late September at South Point Casino. Animal welfare activists hope they can beat back a new attempt by two Clark County commissioners to allow the horse roping event to continue.

"The majority of the horses that we use are actually rescues. We bring them in. They're undesirable horses that maybe didn't work out as a saddle horse, have bad habits, or are abandoned, undesirable horses. We bring them in and we train them," said Tobias de la Torre, the CEO of Charros Federation USA.

Charreada events typically have a horse run around in a circle with men on other horses chasing the horse. A roper will take a lasso and throw it to loop onto a horses legs. The Charreada event is meant to test the roper's accuracy with a lasso. That lasso is not pulled -- and if done correctly -- the horse quickly gets free from the lasso.

Event organizers say intentional horse tripping is not allowed and accidental tripping is extremely rare. One incident happened two years ago in northern Nevada. But some local trainers claim horses suffer unseen mental damage from being chased at Charreada events.

"If you never physically abuse or physically mark your child, but you create psychological damage to them throughout their childhood, imagine the issues they'll have -- scars that run so deep that you can't see. The scars will last a lifetime. We do the same things to these horses by chasing them and roping them," horse trainer Mark Keyser said.

Clark County commissioners will debate the ordinance Thursday which would continue the ban on intentional horse tripping, but allow licensed horse roping events. The ordinance is favored by Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Tom Collins. It's uncertain how much support they can gather.

There is a petition online from local animal welfare activists pressing commissioners to ban all horse roping events and it has more than 850 signatures. South Point Casino tells 8 News NOW they are not selling any tickets for the September Charreada event yet because they are waiting on the county's decision.

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