The Oregon State Senate will soon vote on a bill that would make it crime to rope rodeo horses by the legs. Supporters of the bill call the practice "horse tripping" and say it should be banned. But some rodeo defenders say the practice is being misrepresented.

The event of "horse roping" ranks competitors on the same skills used to break wild horses out on the range. The horse is first roped around the neck, then by the front legs.

Vern Kershner is the president of the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo - one of the few in the state that holds the event. At a public hearing Monday, Kershner said the point of horse roping is not to make the horses fall - although that does sometimes happen.

State Senator Doug Whitsett has been been a large-animal veterinarian for 30 years. He opposes the bill.

"Roping a horse by the front leg is a common and useful tool in equine husbandry, something we use every day of our lives," said Whitsett. "To regulate the practice simply shows a lack of understanding on the part of those who would establish the regulation."

Also testifying was veterinarian Barbara Kahl. She likened the practice to torture.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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