New Equestrian Sport Coming To The Payson Event Center

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An equestrian sport somewhat new to the Rim Country will soon be heating up the Payson Event Center.

It's called team sorting and it's drawn fledgling competitors from around the country including Jill Ridley and her children Mason and Kylie.

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Team sorting is defined as a working cow horse sport featuring fast-paced action in a friendly yet competitive environment. Team sorting will be held March 22 and April 19 at the Payson Event Center.

"Were excited about it, we're glad it's coming to Payson," Jill said. "It should be a lot of fun."

The first team sorting competition will be held March 22 and the second April 19. They will be sponsored by Gary and Sandra Walker of Rafter M Performance Horses in Camp Verde.

Charlene Hunt, who oversees PEC equestrian events for the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, expects other team sorting to be held throughout the summer.

"Destry Haught will be holding those monthly, May through September," she said.

Registration for the first two team sortings, which will be conducted in a jackpot buckle series format, begins at 10 a.m. and the competition begins at noon. A maximum of 25 teams will be allowed in.

The entry fee is $25 per person and entrants must enter twice, making $50 the total charge for the day.

The Walkers describe team sorting as "a working cow horse sport featuring fast-paced action in a friendly, yet competitive, environment."

For the event, the Walkers anticipate forming three-person teams who's job it will be to "sort" a particular cow from a herd of 11 in 2 1/2 minutes.

Ridley said she was attracted to the sport because it requires a good deal of riding skills and will improve her horse's performance.

In addition to the team sorting competitions, numerous other equestrian events will be held throughout the spring and summer at PEC.

They include a Father's Day weekend roping, National Barrel Horse Association races, an appearance by the Arizona Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, the Chancy Bradshaw Memorial Roping, Turn 'n' Burn Barrel and Pole Bending series, the Gracie Haught Memorial Barrel Race-Team Roping and Kansas City Barbecue Society Cook Off, and Mogollon Montoneras' gymkhanas.

For more information on the March 22 and April 19 team sortings, call the Walkers at (928) 567-3321 or (928) 970-0091. Call Hunt at (928) 474-5242, ext. 260, for information on other PEC equestrian events.

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