Faye Birrell from Calgary in Alberta, Canada penning in the CanAm cup, a USTPA-sanctioned penning held Aug. 2-5 2007 in Kalispell Mont.
The National Finals of the United States Team Penning Association (USTPA), which runs Oct. 28 – Nov. 3, in Amarillo, Texas, at the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo Grounds is the largest and richest event of the 2007 team penning and ranch sorting season, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes. Sponsors are still coming in, but last year’s awards topped $400,000.
Team penning is a timed, cattle-working event where teams of three riders work to cut three cattle out of a herd and drive them into a pen. Ranch sorting is a timed event in which two riders push cattle through an exit gate in numbered order.
Top team penning riders and trainers attend USTPA’s National Finals annually, as do rank-and-file USTPA members. All must qualify for this invitational event by attending USTPA shows. The National Finals is considered a major social event in the team penning community, with a dinner on Nov. 1 hosted by the Coors Cowboy Club.
Competitors at the National Finals will include team penning’s first family, the four Lesh brothers, Jared (ranked #1 in USTPA winnings) Jordan, (ranked #2) Joel (ranked #3) and Jamin (ranked #6). Other tops riders are expected to make a presence as well, including Louie Saggione, Dustin Johnson, Reece Stanfill, John May, Sharon Kuebker, Troy Hayden and USTPA president Tom Bross.
Winnings in the top-tier of team penning and ranch sorting competition can be considerable. Not including saddles and other prizes, USTPA’s top 10 riders this season have winnings ranging from $8,000 to $33,000 in USTPA shows alone.