Team penning championship a family-fun event at Nebraska State Fair

The Nebraska Classic Team Penning Association hosted state finals Sunday at the Nebraska State Fair.
Published: Aug. 30, 2020 at 6:40 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - In a showing of agility, precision and teamwork, competitors gave it their all at the team penning state finals Sunday at the Nebraska State Fair.

The Nebraska Classic Team Penning Association held the competition in the Thompson Indoor Arena. Almost 60 teams participated in the three-man two-gate sort.

Wearing western attire, three riders sorted 10 cattle in numerical order until all the calves went through the gate or one minute was spent.

“The hardest part is that you can’t control the cattle,” said Bailey Lukasiewicz, a 20-year-old competitor and Hastings College student. “You can be in the perfect spot, but if the cattle wants to go they’re just going to go by you.”

Participants can ride up to ten times and have to take one draw.

Each cow wears a number zero through nine. An announcer draws a number to determine the number of cow to sort. The team starts on the opposite side of the start line from the cattle. The judge raises an orange flag when the cattle are ready and drops the flag when the nose of the horse crosses the gate.

“You are disqualified if the cattle are out of order or if a calf goes out of the pen and comes back behind you,” said Jene Kasperbauer, superintendent of the Nebraska Classic Team Penning Association.

Kasperbauer participated in seven runs Sunday. He’s been competing on horse for 30 years.

The sport is a family affair for Kasperbauer. He became deeply involved in team penning when his youngest son showed interest. He said they’ve gone to competitions all across the country. Kasperbauer’s oldest son competed in the state final Sunday.

“What truly started this is getting our kids involved and going with our children,” Kasperbauer said. “Now that we’re doing that we just come for the friendships.”

With three divisions, people of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to participate. Top riders can only compete in the third division so beginners and new riders can have more opportunities.

Abbie Daniel, 10, rode her horse around the arena Sunday. She didn’t compete in team penning, but was there to support a family member.

“I’m just here to watch grandpa and lope the horses,” Daniel said. “I just kind of watch him and I learn too.”

Daniel said her family will participate in a cutting competition next weekend.

The first day of the Nebraska Cutters Association starts September 5 in the Thompson Indoor Arena at the Nebraska State Fair.

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