There are those who have sat in the stands watching team cattle penning thinking it would probably be more exciting watching paint dry. This is a thought that can encompass a lot of different activities if knowledge of what you are watching is minimal or non-existent.
In cattle penning, start with the knowledge that the ultimate goal of any team participating in the event is to put their three designated cows in the pen in the least amount of time.
Some of the following common terms that might be heard at a team cattle penning event will help to gain a perspective of that goal and hopefully an appreciation for the sport.
1. Herd – Consists of thirty cows.
2. Team – Made up of three riders each mounted on horses.
3. Rating Number – The number assigned to each rider which determines their skill level.
4. Pen – The ultimate goal! Where the three riders will move the three head of designated cattle to in the fastest time possible.
5. Draw – The list prepared showing the order each team entered will participate.
6. Cattle / Cow Number – Each herd of thirty cows all have numbers affixed to their backs. There will be ten sets of three numbers from zero to nine in each herd.
7. Class – Each team cattle penning event is divided into classes. These classes can be established by the number rating of the riders. When added up, the team rider ratings would be equal to or less than the class number.
8. Herd Holder – The riders that are responsible to get penned cattle back to the herd and then settle the herd back into position. These riders exit the arena when the next cow number is called for the next team.
9. Settle Cattle – The herd of cattle are bunched together within the selected marks in the arena on the cow side of the start line.
10. Cattle Change – This is done after ten teams have completed their runs.
11. Flags Up – The announcer or judge will say this. It notifies the team that they are to start their run. As they cross the start line, the announcer will provide the team with the designated number that they need to look for in the herd.
12. Hole – The short or narrow side between the pen and the wall or fence of the arena.
13. Peeler – A cow with the teams designated number on it that is located on the outside edge of the herd. It is in plain view and easy access for the team to move it away from the herd and to the pen.
14. Trash – During a run, these are wrong numbered cows on the pen side of the arena.
15. Run – From the start of the clock as the team crosses the start line to the end when they call for time at the pen opening.
16. Call Time – One or more of the cows with the same designated number are in the pen. Any team member that is in position on their horse at the pen opening will raise an arm above their shoulder to indicate the team are finished their run and the clock should be stop.
17. Tip of the Hat – A team member tips their hat to indicate to the judge that the team will not continue further with the run sequentially taking a no time.
18. Spotting Cattle – The excitement of the run may have someone who is watching yell out or use hand signals to show where a needed cow is in the herd. This enthusiasm may cost the team dearly because if the judge deems this to be spotting, aka giving the team an unfair advantage, the team could be disqualified.
In general, these expressions are common in and around team battle penning events that are produced across the country. Being familiar with them will help to promote the experience of watching the sport to an exciting and enjoyable level.