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Back alley rodeos raise lawmaker's concerns

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The former state lawmaker who authored Arizona's ban on horse tripping said she is going to ask for a criminal investigation after seeing images captured by CBS 5 News hidden cameras.

The images were taken over the course several months, as members of the 5 Investigates unit attended back alley rodeos, known as charreadas, in south Phoenix.

"I had no idea that this was happening, and what I want to do is call the county attorney, which I will and ask him to help us investigate this," said Congresswoman-elect Kyrsten Sinema, who spearheaded the effort to outlaw horse tripping when she was in the state Legislature.

The hidden camera video shows two events, steer tailing and mangana. During steer tailing, a vaquero gallops his horse alongside a running steer. The vaquero grabs the steer's tail and sends the animal flying into the air. It's common for the steers to land on their backs.

During mangana, a horse is sent galloping through an arena, while a vaquero attempts to lasso its hind legs. The hidden camera video shows several of the horses fall to the ground, which would appear make the action illegal, according to Arizona's law.

"If you've ever seen a horse go down at one of our events, I guarantee you it was accidental," said Tobias de la Torre, who is the CEO of the Charros Federation.

He told CBS 5 News that the events at charreadas are all derived from work cowboys do on working cattle ranches.

After viewing our video, Tobias de la Torre wrote to CBS 5 News and said these events were not sanctioned by his organization. Charros Federation's rules prohibit much of what captured on video. He went on to say he wants to investigate to find out who was involved and hopes our investigation helps to prevent negligent and abusive participants from competing in the future.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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