Team Sorting Clinic, Practice Session Scheduled

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Riders, hard-core team penners and ranch hands will have the opportunity to improve their skills in the new sport of team sorting at an upcoming clinic and practice session.

It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., April 18 at the Payson Event Center.

The following day, also at PEC, clinicians can put their newfound expertise to the test in a jackpot buckle series team sorting competition.

It will begin at noon, but registration is set for 10 a.m.

The event will be the second team sorting held in Payson. The first was conducted March 22 at PEC and drew a sparse crowd.

That turnout didn't dampen the enthusiasm of event coordinator Sandra Walker, of Rafter M Performance Horse in Camp Verde.

"Everyone that was a part of the first one had such a great time, we are really looking forward to the next one," she said.

For the clinic, Walker hopes to attract those who "want to learn more about positioning, how to read and work cattle and to work with your horse in regards to cattle."

Walker said those interested can either participate or audit the clinic.

The clinic fee is $25 to participate and $10 to audit. The team sorting fee is $50 for the day.

What is team sorting?

Because team sorting is relatively new in the Rim Country, Walker is often asked about the sport.

To those who are novices to team sorting, she describes it as, "a working cow horse sport featuring fast-paced action in a friendly, yet competitive, environment."

In the competition, the horse and rider are challenged to learn how to read and control cattle, Walker said.

She touts the competition as one that will "improve your horse's performance, cow sense and overall athleticism."

Among the local riders who have taken up the sport is Jill Ridley.

"It's fun and it's challenging," she said.

At the first team sorting, Ridley teamed with Byron Haught and Felicia Daddabo to take first place.

Although team sorting is novel locally, the sport is popular in the rural Midwest and Canada where various clubs and organizations have formed to promote the sport.

In Southern California, several ranches host weekly team sortings along with team penning competitions.

Walker's Rafter M rules for sorting

"Each team is given a set of cattle, general rule being that you're given 10 to 12 head with 10 of them being numbered 0-9. To be accommodating, initially we may use fewer cattle.

"Each team draws the number they are to start with. Once that is established, you have a cutter that cuts out each cow starting with the first draw and cutting them in sequence. Any cow crossing the foul line out of order results in a no time. "Once the cow is cut, the wingman or lane man takes the cow from the foul line to the sorter in the back and then the sorter will sort even numbers in one pen and odd numbers in the other."

Since this is a timed event, fastest time wins.

For more information, call Walker at (928) 970-0091 or (928) 567-3321.

More sortings

In addition to the team sortings hosted by Walker, Grace Productions will sponsor competitions May 30, June 20, July 25, Aug. 22 and Sept. 19. Books open at 5:30 p.m., followed by competition at 6:30.

For more information on those, call Destry Haught at (480) 710-3335. The event is co-sponsored by Payson Parks and Recreation.

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