May 5, 1999 | By: Aimee D. Heald

"Cattle ready, riders come-a-runnin', your number is...FIVE!" This is a common phrase announcers use at team penning competitions before three riders come running across the starting line toward a herd of 30 cattle.

Each animal is marked with a number from zero to nine. The team must cut three cattle, displaying the number called, from the herd. As a team, they have to get these three cattle to the other end of the arena and into a three-sided pen, all within 90 seconds.

For the first time, Kentucky 4-H members got to compete in the fast-growing equine sport of Team Penning at Western Kentucky University's Agriculture Expo Center May 15, 1999.

"The opportunity was great because we could attract 4-H members to participate in the special event who normally would not get involved in other 4-H horse events," Ashley Griffin, equine extension associate for the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, said. "We even had participants in the Team Penning Class who normally show Western Pleasure horses."

More than 40 participants from various parts of the Commonwealth took part in three events including team penning, calf roping and breakaway roping. The events, which are a part of the Kentucky State 4-H Horse Show, took place earlier because of time restraints and cattle availability. The winners of the special event are still eligible for premium money from the upcoming State 4-H Horse Show.

"It went smooth as silk," Janet Turley, Warren County 4-H youth development agent, said. "We had a volunteer here in the county who helped get everything lined up. The Southern Kentucky Team Penning Association was excited to help us get this started. Since we piggy-backed with one of their events, we were able to cut costs by using some of the pens and cattle that were already there."

Since this was the first time for Kentucky 4-H to have a team penning, a lot of supplies and resources were donated and many people volunteered time to help with behind-the-scenes tasks. The crowd was very involved in the competition as well, encouraging teams and individuals to beat the clock.

"One of the kids in the calf roping, who was probably 9 or 10, was having a hard time getting his horse to cooperate with him," Turley recalled. "The calf was bigger than he was and took every bit of the two minutes allowed to get him tied, but he did get it done. That was a great crowd thriller."

Winners in each of the three events were as follows: Brandon Wagnor, Crittenden County, won the Calf Roping event with his horse, Nugget; Jessica Fields, Warren County, placed first in the Breakaway Roping event atop her horse, Baron Silver King; the Warren County team of Jessica Fields, Josh Oates and Morgan Crecelius won the Team Penning event with their horses, Go Miss Kita Bars, Startack Freckles and Fascinating Freckles, respectively.

"I'm very confident we will continue the team penning next year," Turley said. "The WKU Expo Center is an ideal place and we'll get great support from the Southern Kentucky Team Penning Association. I'm certain we will have knowledgeable and helpful volunteers again next year."

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee D. Heald (606) 257-9764 
Sources: Ashley Griffin (606) 257-7501 Janet Turley (502) 842-1681