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Team penning, very similar to ranch sorting, cutting, and reining. It is a western equine sport but before it became a sport it was and still is the practice of ranch work where cowboys would sort and separate cattle for branding, doctoring or transport. Although it is not as common in the form of pure ranch work as it was before the year 1942, when team penning became a sport, it is still practiced to this day. Team penning was first turned into a sport when two brothers, Ray and Joe Yanez, and a Canadian cowboy, Bill Schwindt, decided to turn there daily ranch chores into a competition to see who could get them done quickest and showing their true horsemanship. The first organized team penning competition is reported to have taken place in August 1949 at the Ventura County Fair in California, where the cowboys who came up with this idea were from.
Today the United States Team Penning Association (USTPA) is head-quartered in Fort Worth, Texas with an estimated 93,000 active team penners in North America. The USTPA is a member based non-profit organization that was formed in 1993 to represent team penners of all ages.
Team penning consists of three riders and thirty head of cattle with numbers on their backs. Three of the cattle are wearing a number 0 through 9 and the judge will call out which three cattle will need to be cut from the herd. This is to be done ideally under 60 to 90 seconds, which ever team yields the fastest time wins. The timer starts once the lead riders horse has crossed the foul line and the line judge has drawn their flag.
The pen that the riders must herd there cattle into is sixteen feet by twenty-four feet and located at the opposite end of the ring. The opening of the pen is ten feet wide. Once all the cattle are in the pen the team can call for time. In order to call for time, only the three cattle that were assigned are allowed in the pen. The team must be able to work together in order to successfully separate their cattle from the rest while keeping the herd together. Athleticism, horsemanship and having a cow sense are all important aspects in order to win and keep winning.
Team Penning Breeds
Any horse breed is welcome in this event which brings great diversity to the sport. Many feel that a stock-type horse breed, such as an American Quarter Horse, is better suited for this event but competitors are not limited to any standard, whether registered or not registered. Horses bred on ranches who have jobs working with cattle tend to have a cow sense which is described as being able to mimic or anticipate a cows moves. These horses are very quick, agile and able to turn on a dime.
The USTPA has formed a relationship with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) which allows the earnings of registered Quarter Horses to be tracked and also makes them eligible to special awards.
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