Rounding up the titles: Locals excel at recent horse show

Published 4:09 am Saturday, December 3, 2016

Some people take up hobbies to relax after a stressful workday.

Then there are those who, after work, saddle up, head to the backyard, and practice sorting 600-pound animals from one side of an arena to another.

Troy and Candy Crain would be among the latter group.

For years, the Crains have spent their free time sorting cows in amateur competitions. Cow sorting is a timed event requiring a rider to herd a particular cow out from one 60-foot round pen into another 60-foot pen. There are 11 cows in total and each must be moved in the random order determined by an announcer in real time and so the rider has to master his or her horse, control the appointed cow and the rest of the herd.

The sport isn’t particularly dangerous — there’s no roping or any physical contact between the horseman and the cow, but it requires split-second decisions and precision horse control and response.

The Crains have been involved in the sport for years.

Their dedication paid off because in November, the couple — and others from their team — earned top ranking in the American Paint Horse Association’s amateur world championship show. Troy Crain and Tommy Davis placed first in the open ranch sorting class, and Candy Crain and Tommy Davis placed third in the event. Troy and Kevin Chunn also earned amateur ranch sorting class championships.

Troy Crain said he’s loved the sport since he was a teenager.

“I started team penning in high school,” he said. “There wasn’t anywhere around here to ride, so we started putting on practices at the Bogalusa arena.”

Seven years ago the Crains built Crain’s Arena in their backyard and they built up their stable.

Today the Crains have 20 horses and 180 cows. Of those, 110 are sorting cows, although they get sold once they get too large.

The couple also started organizing their own sorting competitions under the name 3DOTS, which stands for 3D Open Team Sorting. With 3DOTS, the couple produces competitions throughout Louisiana.

“Right now we average 220 teams at one of those shows,” Troy said. “At our finals, we ran 298 teams.”

To succeed at a competition requires years of practice riding and years of horse training.

“Pretty much everybody at the show level, they’re pretty good horsemen and they’ve done it long enough, so they have experience,” Troy said.

Beginning in March of each year, the Crains host practice events with 90 teams twice a month and they continue the routine through the end of October.

Troy said the practicing is not merely for the rider, but also for the animal underneath. The horse must understand split-second commands and both the rider and the horse must be ready to deal with another 600-pound animal — the cow.

“The other element that’s so hard to predict is the cow,” Troy said. “You might think it will go left and it goes right, and so it adds a whole other element.”

Troy explained that the trick is guiding the cow without touching it.

“As a matter of fact, if you hit a cow with a horse, then you’re disqualified,” he said. “They call it roughing the cattle.”

Over the years, all the training and competition has paid off for Troy and he’s won championships before. He won the world championship in cowboy mounted shooting in 1999 and last year he was the reserve world champion.

“The big show is the world show,” Candy said. “When you win the ‘world,’ you are the man or woman for the year.”