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2001/12/18


The Cow Catch Event - New Equine Sport What do you get when you cross team penning, working cow horse, trail horse, and throw in roping for added spice? You get The Cow Catch Event. The enthusiasm for this new equine event is tremendous. The fun, challenge, and affordability of The Cow Catch Event is appealing to riders at all levels of experience. "Producers and contestants alike are telling us they really like this new equine sport," says Cow Catch founder and producer, Joe T. Barnett of Joe T. Productions. The Mississippi cowboy has for the past twelve years produced many pennings in several states including the Dixie National Team Penning & Sorting which draws penners from all over the country. Barnett also introduced "No Trash" team penning that has proved to be very popular in many areas. He says, "However, many smaller associations have quit because it has gotten too expensive to produce pennings. Many part time competitors have stopped hauling because of the higher entry fees." So what exactly is The Cow Catch Event? It is a timed event. It requires a two rider team. The arena has cattle pens at both ends. There are holding pens for resting cattle and a sorting pen that keeps five head of cattle for competition. The arena also has two obstacles set approximately where the #1 & 2 barrels are in a barrel race. The object is for the riders to open the gate on the sorting pen, enter the pen and cut one cow out of five and drive the cow into the arena. The cow is then driven in a figure eight pattern around the obstacles and taken to the far end of the arena, where one of the two riders opens the exit gate and the cow is driven out of the arena into the exit pen. Time starts when sorting pen gate is opened. Time stops when exit gate is closed. Sounds simple, right? So what do the competitors have to say about it? "I really like it," says team penner Buddy Eaton. "You have to be thinking and alert. Not as much speed as team penning, but you need a good rider with alot of control of his horse." Melinda Woodward, Cow Catch Open Class winner likes the fact that both riders are equally involved. "It takes two riders working together to make this work." Team penning judge and penner Kenny Davis likes that riders get to choose their own cow. "If you know cattle, you have an advantage here in that you pick the cow you want to work." Roper and penner Elmer Woodward's response to Cow Catch? "We had a blast! Good thing there is a 5 ride limit at the first one I went to. I would have kept on riding all night. We entered and rode Saturday night, came home and set up the pens at 6:30 Sunday morning, went to church, came home and practiced all Sunday afternoon. We invited some ropers and barrel racers over to practice with us. Everybody enjoyed it." So where do ropers come into it, you ask? At any time during the pattern one or both riders have the option of roping the cow using a breakaway honda. If they catch the cow, (neck or horns), two seconds are taken off their time. If they miss, two seconds are added to their time. Team roper Steve McMullen enjoys the challenge of the Cow Catch. "I thought, 'I can do that', but it wasn't as easy as I expected!" Does McMullen think ropers will have an advantage? "No, most ropers rope on a straight line & there aren't many straight lines in this. There isn't much room and you go to work fast." Is the Cow Catch Event only for experienced cowhands? "No way," says Angie Abrams, Chickasaw County Event secretary. "We have beginner riders riding entering the Cow Catch who wouldn't attempt to show or pen. This is something that the whole family can do together." What do riders think is the hardest thing about the Cow Catch Event? "The second obstacle," according to Buddy Eaton. "At the beginning of the pattern you can let the cow decide which way to go, but on the second obstacle, there is only one way left to go." "Working the gate is hardest for the young horse I'm riding," says Kenny Davis. From a roper's view, Steve McMullen states, "It depends on the cattle. Some don't want to line out and run straight, (like cattle in brush roping.)" What advantages are there for producers? J.E. Pumphreys is president of the Chickasaw Fair Association. His group has been having team pennings for several years. "We can't afford to have team pennings anymore. The Cow Catch Event doesn't take as much speed, isn't as hard on the cattle. We can run 200-300 teams and only need 30 head of cattle. That makes a big difference in cost of production." Elmer Woodward wants to produce some Cow Catch Events. "We're working on getting an arena where we can hold some. The Cow Catch will be more affordable to put on. And it really appeals to ropers, penners, and sorters, especially to someone who likes to sort." Angie Abrams says, "There are a lot less headaches putting on a Cow Catch Event. It doesn't take nearly as many cattle, much less time in preparation, settling cows." "Its tremendous for cattlemen," states Buddy Eaton. "A cattleman can afford to put on Cow Catch Event. And he sees his cattle being handled like he would handle them at home." Is there a bright future for The Cow Catch Event? Most agree that by summer there will be lots of Cow Catch Events. Nancy Davis believes Cow Catch Events will bring back alot of folks who have lost interest in equine competitions. Barnett says they already have Events scheduled in central and north Mississippi most weekends. "We are adding Cow Catch to the Dixie National schedule in January and we have started scheduling events in other states. We plan to have our first championship finals early in 2003." "The Cow Catch Event requires few cattle, is simple, and is easy to produce. Because of that, we can have low entry fees, respectable pay outs, and offer an exciting event that more people can compete in. It's a win - win situation", says Barnett. For information on sanctioned Cow Catch Events (those where entry fees are charged), producer's agreements are available. Phone or fax Joe T. Barnett - 662-890-6310. Web site will be available soon.

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