LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A video taken by a spectator at the rodeo last week is raising questions about possible animal abuse.
According to audience members, people were shocked and disturbed as the scene unfolded.
That video has been circulating on Facebook. It shows the chaotic situation when the Western Heritage Trail Riders entered the ring at the 79th Annual Southwest District Livestock show and rodeo.
"The minute those wagons hit the arena on that soft soil, those horses were in trouble," said an audience member, Charlotte Waymire.
She was in the audience and took the videos.
Waymire says it was clear to her that the horses were unable to pull the wagons and thought the horses would then be detached, and led out of the ring.
"They decided to start literally beating those horses until they had no choice except to thrash in those traces and get up enough momentum to drag those wagons out of the arena," said Waymire.
She said multiple people were whipping the teams, sometimes more than once.
But, the head of the Western Heritage Trail Ride, Glenn Daigle, says no horses or mules were hurt.
"This is a stock whip what they were saying they were beating the animals with," said Daigle "All it is, is a little piece of rope on a little rod. I understand that some people might have gotten a little carried away with whipping their horses, but I assure you that you can do more damage with spurs then you can with one of these whips."
"I don't think that the whip is the problem," said Waymire. "The problem is how it was utilized. These were utilized as weapons and these horses were beaten mercilessly until they performed at a higher level than what they felt was safe."
Daigle says the problem was the dirt. It panicked both riders and animals.
"Once we realized that the dirt was wet and they were in trouble, we were trying to get the wagons in so nobody will get hurt," said Daigle.
Daigle says the trail ride has strict rules and they wouldn't intentionally hurt their animals.
"They've been doing this trail ride since the 80's and this is the first time that this is ever happened," said Daigle.
Waymire says it wasn't every rider whipping the horses, but there should be a penalty for those who did.
"These are living breathing creatures and they not only have feelings but they have laws to protect them just like we have laws to protect us," said Waymire.
We reached out to Burton Coliseum for a better idea of what happened with the dirt, but no one was available for comment.
Click HERE to read the Louisiana Law regarding animal abuse.