Team Penning tradition returns

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— A summer tradition will return to the Saddle Mountain Ranch Sunday afternoon as local cowhands saddle up their horses for the start of the Soda Creek Western Mercantile Team Penning series.

"The cattle arrived last weekend and they look pretty frisky and crazy," local organizer Bill Montag said.

Once again this summer the Soda Creek Western Mercantile will sponsor the Sunday afternoon team penning series at the ranch, which is located just west of Steamboat Springs along U.S. 40. The series is scheduled to take place every Sunday afternoon this summer. Action normally gets rolling at about 1 p.m. and for $25 anyone with a horse can give the fast-growing sport of team penning a try. In penning, a team of three riders must separate a predetermined group of cattle (each of which is marked with a specific number) from a herd and move them into a small pen at the other end of the arena. Competitors can ride on more than one team during an afternoon. Riders are awarded points based on how their teams finish.

The competition stresses horsemanship and teamwork. The team that moves the cattle into the pen in the fastest time wins. Teams are drawn randomly before each competition.

"All you have to do is show up with horse," Montag said. "If you've never done it before there are plenty of folks who are willing to lend a hand and teach you how it works."

Montag expects the series to draw more than 40 competitors from all over northwestern Colorado. Many of the athletes are coming off a winter series that was held at the Two Socks arena last winter. That series ended a few weeks ago.

Montag said the sport of penning has become very popular in the Steamboat area and around the country over the past several years.

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