Wednesday, June 11, 2008
This is when team penning gets really exciting! At this point tensions are running high and getting those cows into the pen can either be 'picture perfect', as you see here, or one of those riders could be positioned just a little bit off and the cows can run right back to the herd and avoid that little pen! I liked this picture because it really shows all the positions that the 3 team members must take in order to get those 3 cows through that 12 foot gate:
The Palomino is "sweeping", or running around the end of the arena, pushing the cows towards the pen. She has to be able to read how the cows are reacting to her presence - if she hurries them, they could very well rush past the other riders; if she goes too slow, they lose precious seconds on the clock.
The rider on the other side of the pen is in the "hole". There is an alleyway on the other side of the pen, which the cows know gives them a straight shot right back to the herd. That rider needs to block the cows, generally by making a lot of noise, and if the cows really pressure her, by riding forward slightly, encouraging them towards the pen and away from the hole.
The rider on this side of the gate is on the "wing". His job is to keep the cows from doing a circle in front of the pen when the sweep pushes them, and then as they go past him, to join the sweep rider in rushing them into the pen.
Overhead you can see the judge, timekeeper and announcer. The judge is holding up a flag that she will drop when the riders enter the gate of the pen behind the cows, raise their arms and call for time. At that point the timekeeper will stop the timer.
Sound complicated?? It sure can be!! You never know what those pesky cows are gonna do!! ;-)