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Tracy Frank, Published February 06 2014

VIDEO: Moorhead man takes home penner title

MOORHEAD - From his horse’s saddle, Bill Borgen waited for the announcer to call out a number. Before the echo from the announcer’s third call of “four” died down, he found the first of three calves marked with a number four and herded it toward the pen on the other side of the arena.

In a little more than 40 seconds, Borgen and his teammates, Scot Stelter of Detroit Lakes, Minn., and Sharon Kuebker, who lives in Illinois, found all three calves, separated them from the rest of the herd and corralled them inside a pen. Their quickest time, Borgen said, is about 16 seconds.

“You’ve got to be able to read cattle a little bit so you know which one will run,” he said.

Their quick maneuvering and ability to read the calves earned Borgen and his teammates the title of National Champion Team Penner during the Adequan Select AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) World Championship Show in Amarillo, Texas, last August.

Stelter, who is originally from Moorhead, said the team doesn’t ride together often, but when they do, they communicate really well.

Stelter has been doing team penning for almost 15 years and said it’s a great family sport.

Kuebker rides with other teams too and has won several world championships.

She said she, Borgen, and Stelter work well as a team. Kuebker has been team penning since 1989.

“It’s never the same run,” she said. “Every time you go in, it’s a different run.”

Team penning was created to preserve the traditional skill sets of working cow horses and handlers, according to the United States Team Penning Association.

Borgen, who has been team penning for 12 years, took his 19-year-old sorrel mare, Park It Hot, out of retirement for the competition, he said, after he found out she had earned enough points placing in shows around the country to qualify for the Adequan Select.

While he still rode her for pleasure, by the time he decided to take her out of retirement, she only had about three months to get ready, said Borgen’s fiancée, Terri Craig.

Still, Park It Hot seems to thrive on herding cattle, Borgen said.

“They’ve got a cow sense,” Craig said. “Just like a bird dog has a bird sense.”

Craig, who has participated in a lot of horse shows has also gotten into team penning and said she loves it.

“This is a tough sport,” she said. “You rely on your partners and you never know what the cows are going to do.”

The select competition is for contestants ages 50 and older. Borgan also took third place in ranch sorting at the competition.

In ranch sorting, two riders are required to sort cattle from one pen to another in the correct order. The sport evolved from the common ranch work of separating cattle into pens for branding, doctoring, or transport, according to the National Sorting Cow Horse Association.

Borgan took third place in team penning in the world competition in 2008 as well.

Because they took first place in the 2013 show, Borgen and his teammates are automatically qualified for this year’s World Championship Show.

Borgen grew up in north Moorhead and has built a house near his childhood home. He has a horse boarding business and farms corn, soybeans and sugar beets.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526