By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Pifer Mountain resident Daniel Clower loaded up his horse trailer recently and hauled to Jackson, Ohio to compete for over $100,000 worth of cash and prizes at the Congress Super sort hosted by CINCH RSNC (ranch sorting national championship).
The event took place at a state of the art facility known as Henderson Arena, boasting nearly three hundred stalls, a fully enclosed indoor arena with stadium seating, a covered outdoor arena, and two additional outdoor rings. One thousand, seven hundred, and ninety three teams of two and three competitors competed for one of the top prizes.
Clower has been riding horses most of his life, but just this year he set out in search of a new equine partner to take his competition level up a notch. “I’ve always enjoyed competition so I set out to find something I could do with horses in a competitive setting”, Clower stated. “Since rodeo isn’t big in our area and I enjoy the western, cowboy way of life, I decided to give ranch sorting a go”. His partner for this endeavor is Justa Cee Peppy, also known as “Kate” from the timeless John Wayne film “McClintock”. Kate is a four year old, Palomino American Quarter Horse mare Clower purchased out of Pennsylvania. “What attracted me to her most was her personality and how she handled herself”, he proclaimed. “The first time I rode her she didn’t let things bother her that would normally bother a horse of her age, she has always remained calm and collected but with a fierce athleticism when it’s time to go.” Clower explained. A desire for the job is bred into this horse with Hall of Fame bloodlines bred for western sports.
Ranch sorting is described by Clower as “Half the ability of the horse and rider, half the desire of the cow to go anywhere besides where you want it, and a whole lot of luck”. The event can be a two person, one gate run, or a three person, two gates; however, the idea remains the same. A rider enters a pen of cattle that all but one has numbers on from zero through nine. As a rider enters, a random number is called and a sixty second timer begins. The rider must sort that cow from the herd and out the gate with the help of a gate keeper and continue to do so with the cattle in numerical order. If a cow escapes through the gate out of order, the team receives a no time. The team with the most cattle sorted in order in the time allotment wins the round.
“I love the challenges it provides, not only do the horse and rider have be on the same page, but you also have the wild card of the cow with a mind of its own”, Clower responded when asked what he enjoys about the sport. “That evens the playing field where even someone sorting for the very first time can go in and win, beating someone whose been doing it for years”, he explained.
When asked how the first day of competition went, Clower responded with, “It was a learning experience. There were a lot of nerves and it made me press way more and really forget the basics about what I needed to do”. Day two went a lot better for the team. “Even though we didn’t have a qualifying time, my horse and I were working a lot better together, I calmed down a lot, and learned a lot by watching the other competitors”, he explained. By day three, the teams luck started to turn. “I almost didn’t compete on day three, but it was in a competition we (Clower and Kate) were more used to being a three man two gate”, Clower stated. “I figured we were there, so why not and we ended up turning in one of the fastest runs in the opening round of that competition”, he exclaimed. Doing so earned them a spot along with seventeen other qualified teams in round two. “Unfortunately, the next run didn’t go as well and we didn’t make it back for the final”, he stated.
The three day event came to an end on Sunday evening. All classes received the official Quarter Horse Congress medallions through tenth place, which are provided by the Congress each year. Clower recalled, “I felt really happy with the way we did by the end of the competition. I felt really humbled by the level of competition at the event, but it has also fueled my drive for the sport even more and I hope to come back next year and be more competitive at both local and national level events”.
There are several local events for this family friendly sport that is not only fun to participate in, but fun to watch. Anyone of any age, experience level, or with any breed of horse is welcome and encouraged to try out the sport of ranch sorting. Clower is a big advocate for the sport and equine sports in its entirety and has extended his support to anyone interested. “Anyone who would like to reach out to me to learn more can feel free to look me up on Facebook and I’ll help in any way I can.”