Jared Iacovetto knows that team penning is addictive.
That's why he is going to offer horse owners a chance to come out to Saddelback Ranch for a free taste of the sport Sunday afternoon.
The team penning clinic, which begins at 1 p.m. at the ranch, will feature a short exhibition and a chance to saddle up and get into the arena to experience the sport firsthand.
Iacovetto said the idea of the clinic is to teach the basics of team penning, meet other people in the area and spend the afternoon on the back of a horse enjoying the rich ranching heritage that surrounds the sport.
But if Iacovetto is right, and the sport truly is addictive, it also might result in more competitors at this summer's team penning events.
"Once you've tried team penning, you are hooked," Iacovetto said. "That's what happened to me."
Iacovetto started penning as a child but lost his connection with the sport as he grew older.
"I loved it when I was a kid, but I didn't seem to have the time for penning when I was older," he said. "There were too many other things going on."
But he rediscovered the sport last year when a small group of area penners moved their events to his family's Saddleback Ranch, three miles south of Milner on Routt County Road 179.
Iacovetto is hoping that this weekend's clinic will fuel the same love for the sport in a new generation of team penners and boost the attendance at this summer's team penning events.
For the past 10 years, the sport has been kept alive in Steamboat Springs by a small but dedicated group of riders. They meet at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday to practice.
Longtime penner Jack Horner said he doesn't consider the group, about 15 people, a club.
There are no officers, restrictions or annual membership dues attached to the group activities.
He said anyone who shows up with a horse Thursday evenings is welcome to join the practice.
There is a participation fee, which is used to pay for the arena and cattle. Horner said penners can pay a onetime fee of $300 ($15 per practice) to take part in the weekly events or they can elect to pay only for the sessions they attend. The group held its first practice of the year April 15 and has about 18 more sessions remaining this year.
In addition, the same group held its first jackpot team penning event April 18. Those sessions will continue every other Sunday until the end of the summer. The contestants must pay to compete in those events but have a chance to win money depending on how their team finishes.
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