Penning is Horse Industrys New Cash Cow
the game of team penning,, it could be the game of Who Wants
to be a Millionaire?
Falls, Texas) Sounds simple. With two other partners, go
into a herd of 30 cattle, cut out three with the same number on
their backs and get them into a pen at the opposite end of the arena
in less than sixty seconds. So simple, in fact, that when the United
States Team Penning Association (USTPA) began in 1993, the sport
took off with rapidly growing participation and interest. Before
long, it was common place to see team penners competing for purses
of $50,000 or more practically unheard of in weekend horse
that time, the USTPA, the largest not-for-profit team penning association
in North America, has been joined by other regional associations
across the United States and Canada who offer their own variety
of weekend fun. The sport itself has changed, as well. No longer
is it the rough and tumble scattering of cattle, but it is now a
game of calculated maneuvering among a team of horsemen and women.
Tougher rules make roughing cattle a disqualification and smaller
arena's now commonly used significantly reduces the stress placed
on yearlings ultimately headed for the meat market. And team sorting
has been added to the menu, which calls for competitors, usually
two or three riders per team, to move 10-head of cattle from one
pen to another in numerical order, beginning with a randomly called
number between zero and nine, i.e. 6, 7, 8, 9, etc. through 5. The
biggest change, however, has been the cash that has flowed in the
sport in the past near decade.
are team penners who have been involved in this sport since it began
who have earned more than $500,000 on their horses, said Ronnie
Gebauer, USTPA President. Now, thats a person who competes
regularly and is in the top 20% of riders in the sport, but everyone
who enters a team penning has an equal opportunity to come home
with a paycheck. This is a test of true ability and horsemanship
and you only compete against people of similar ability to your own.
those events managed by USTPA Productions, a division of USTPA,
more than $1.2 million in cash and prizes is offered annually to
USTPA members. The USTPA National Finals, to be held November 4-8
in Amarillo, Texas, will offer $60,000-guaranteed added money with
a total estimated cash purse of $500,000, along with titles to five
Hart trailers, and a plethora of Circle Y saddles and Maynard buckles.
The event is also sponsored by Wrangler, TransWest Trucks and Coors.
According to USTPA Executive Director Mark Toby, thats just
the tip of the iceberg.
sanctions a total of number 114 team pennings each year, he
said, and those team penning competitions will offer a total
purse of more than $3 million dollars to its riders. That adds up
to a total of dollars nearly $4.5 million available annually through
USTPA sanctioned events. Since were a member-owned organization,
the majority of the entry fees and sanctioning fees are paid back
to the member through these prize packages.
its relative youth in the horse industry (the National Reining Horse
Association began in 1966 and the National Reined Cow Horse Association
began in 1970, for example), the USTPA has catapulted onto the face
of the horse industry with unprecedented speed. That rapid growth,
however, spawned a fractured sport of small regional organizations
with no governing sport federation, although most use USTPA rules
and guidelines. USTPA, representing more than 6,000 team penning
enthusiasts, is the largest not-for-profit team penning association
in the nation, but it is estimated that more than 40,000 horse owners
compete in the sport.
is a great sport with a great future, said Gebauer. It
is one of the few sports in the country, horse related or otherwise,
where whole families can come play and compete. USTPA is now focusing
its efforts on making this sport stronger for and more accessible
to those who want to be a part of what we think is the best kept
secret in the horse business.
more information about team penning or how to join the USTPA, contact
Mark Toby, Executive Director, at 940-766-6838 or go the their website