Fort Collins, Colo.
Since losing my school bus driving job with all of its benefits, I have been rather lost. The job was great for me because, although I didn’t make a lot of money it gave me time off in the summer and on weekends to ride my horse in a number of activities. That is where my life is and has been for the past 50 years or so.
It seems they have stopped the local playtime events around this area because everyone went after the big time events where they can charge large entry fees and make more money. Oh, sure, if you win at these you can take home a bundle of cash. However, after being in these events most of my life I can say that I have seen very few folks who wind up with very much financial improvement in their lives. Most of them have good paying jobs that pay for their time to play. I think that leaves us folks who had mostly cowboy jobs out in the cold.
The last event I went to was clear over on the western edge of Wyoming on the Utah line. There my team won first place in Team Penning. Then, feeling cocky, it was back home to enter one at the Larimer County Fair, where I lost any money I had won and then some.
So feeling sorry for myself, I began to sulk. Then I read a flyer stating that Dave and Mandy Wolf were carrying on the ranch sorting Championship for Colorado and Wyoming. The thing that perked my interest was that in the winter series they are planning to have three sorts at their place here in Wellington.
What that means to me is that I don’t have to travel so far to play. That cuts down on expenses a bunch, as I only have to travel about 10 miles to the event. On Saturday, Sept. 29, I saddled up and headed to Wolf’s arena.
I was excited because I hadn’t been there since about 1995 when they quit team roping. But the thing I was most excited about was that Dave was giving a clinic to the beginners before competition started. I have been involved in ranch sorting most of my life but in the competition, everything moves quite a bit faster because you are given about two minutes to sort through 10 head. Since I wanted to compete, I figured some good advice couldn’t hurt.
The pen contains 10 head with numbers on their backs and there are two members on the team. One blocks the gate as the other moves into the herd, and as he enters, the timekeeper calls out a number. The first sorter goes after that numbered animal and brings it around the pen, usually a number of others come with that one. It is the person at the gate, who must keep the others out and the sorter must turn the one he wants back in the gate as the gate person moves out of the way for that animal.
It is a bunch of fun and entry fees are low enough for us homegrown competitors. Beginner Ranch hand fees are $15 each with a 50 percent payback to winners. Rookie Incentive is $20 each with Master and above is $25 with a 60 percent pay back.
If you are interested in working cattle and giving your horse a good workout, you might be interested in this event. I was glad to see it start up locally.
I am sorry I don’t have any pictures to show you. I took some good ones with my new digital camera my children gave me but haven’t been able to figure out how to get them over to my computer.
Roger Thompson is a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.