- Associated Press - Sunday, June 24, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) - Local horse riders got a chance to learn the growing sport of ranch sorting at the Historic Saddle Club June 9.

The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reports that the clinics were taught by Mickey Plemons, a Cheyenne resident who still speaks with his native Texan accent, and has been competing in the sport for more than five years. He hosted two clinics - one for beginners and one for intermediate and advanced sorters. He had previous experience in horse sports before taking up ranch sorting.

“I’d gotten to the point where I was not very competitive in working cow horse,” Plemons said. “I went to one of these shows in Rapid City and became addicted to it.”

He was brought in by the saddle club to teach the clinics by sharing his experiences and to offer advice.

“I’m not a professional,” he said. “But I can tell people what I did to get to the point where I am now.”

Ranch sorting requires two pens, connected by a gate. A few cattle with numbers on their back are released into one of the pens, and a team of two riders have to move the cattle from one pen to the other in sequential order based on each animal’s number. Teams are timed on how long it takes to sort and are disqualified if they let in an animal out of order.

It’s a difficult sport - Plemons said roughly 70 percent of all runs end with a disqualification - but Plemons said it’s appealing to experts and beginners.

“It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, what level your horse is, there’s a spot for you as a recreational, as an intermediate, or as a professional,” he said. “The guy who owns a ranch and is working cattle all week, he can go compete in this.”

The sport requires two things: a rider who can read cattle and know which way an animal will turn, and a horse that will stop and turn. Unless you want to reach the top of the sport, nothing else is needed.

“You don’t have to go out and buy a $40,000 horse that will sit and come like a cutting horse,” Plemons said. “I don’t have to send my horse to a trainer. I can ride in and compete at my level. It’s just fun. It is the most fun in equine I’ve ever had.”


Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com

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