About Team Penning

morgan & BethCentral Maine Team Penning Association (CMTPA) was established on November 26, 1995, by a group of equestrians dedicated to increasing the popularity of this challenging and fast-growing sport. Membership and participation continue to grow, with members hailing from all over our great state, neighboring New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, as well as a wonderful following from our Canadian friends. The club holds most of the seasons competitions at our cattle providers facility @ Maple Lane Farms, in Charleston, Maine.  Due to increased popularity, CMTPA also hosts Ranch Sorting Events providing 2 full days of weekend competition!



What is Team Penning?

Team penning was started in California in the 1950s and reached this area of the country in the 1990’s. Riders of all ages from youth to “seniors” and of all levels of experience compete. You’ll see riders competing on horses of all breeds and disciplines from the backyard family horse, to the trained, cow-bred, Quarter Horse! Team penning is a family sport, aimed at having fun with friends and your horse! The competition pits thirty cattle against three riders to determine if the riders can pull the right three cows from the herd, push them down the arena, and put them in the pen faster than any of the other teams. Riders are successful when the cattle are penned. If the allotted time expires, or too many cattle cross the foul line, the result is a “no time”.

Here’s How it Happens!
Three riders enter the arena. Bunched together at the other end of the arena are thirty cattle, numbered from 0 to 9, three of each number. The judge gives a number to the team when the first rider crosses the start line, and the clock is started. The team must cut the three cattle with that same number out of the herd, bring them down the arena and get them into a pen within an allotted time–usually ninety seconds. The fastest time with the most cattle wins. This has brought real western riding competition to the State of Maine.



Ranch Sorting is a western-style equestrian sport that evolved from the common ranch work of separating cattle into pens for branding, doctoring, or transport. Ranch Sorting is an event that pits a team of two riders on horseback against the clock. Teamwork is the key with both riders working in harmony to cut out the correct cattle and drive them to the pen while keeping the wrong numbered cattle back. There are several variations of ranch sorting with one, two or three riders on the team, but all require sorting the cattle from one pen to the other in the correct order

Here’s How it Happens:
Two round pens are set up against each other with a small opening between the two pens. There are eleven or twelve calves/steers, depending on the event host, in one of the pens. The calves/steers are numbered 0-9 with the remaining 1 or 2 left unnumbered.

The judge raises the flag and when the riders crosses through the opening between the two pens a number is called out, the clock starts and the competition begins.  The team of two riders move the cattle, one at a time, from one pen to the other in numerical order, starting with the called random number. For example: Judge calls out # 7.  The team must start by sorting off the # 7 calf/steer, then 8, then 9, then 0, then 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 last. The cattle without a number must remain in the first pen.

One rider stays at the opening to “hold off” the unwanted cattle, while the other rider “sorts off” the wanted calf/steer and brings him through the opening into the 2nd pen.  The riders switch positions each time a calf/steer is brought through to the 2nd pen. If a calf/steer gets from one pen to the other out of order, then the team is disqualified.  If any of the cattle that have already been sorted come back into the pen, the team is disqualified. The clock is set for 60 or 90 seconds (depending on the class). When time is up the team stops sorting. The team with the most amount  of cattle sorted in the fastest time wins.