Pinedale friends sort a State Fair qualifying time
Pinedale – Casey Manning and Blaine Mathews of Pinedale are no strangers to ranch work, so the ranch sorting competition seemed like a natural place for them at county fair. This year, for their first year competing as a team, Manning and Mathews took the top prize by an overwhelming margin.
“We got all 10 head sorted in one minute and 53 seconds,” says Manning.
“Second place sorted two head in three minutes,” adds Mathews, emphasizing their achievement.
“I guess you could say we put on a bit of a clinic,” he joked.
Manning, the 16-year-old son of Keith and Talli Manning, is a junior at Pinedale High School and has been working on his family’s ranch for many years. This year Manning convinced Mathews to join him in competing at the Sublette County Fair.
“Casey did it last year and talked me into giving it a try this year,” says Mathews.
Mathews is the son of Betty Lou and Gene Pearson and graduated from Pinedale High School this spring.
“I used my everyday ranch horse and did a couple of afternoons practice on her,” he says. “I did a lot better than I thought I would on her.”
Mathews says it is his first time ever competing in a ranch rodeo event.
The Sublette County Fair had 10 competitors in the senior ranch sorting event of the youth horse show, for a total of five teams. In the contest, Manning explains that 10 numbered cows and two ‘blanks’ must be sorted into an adjoining pen, in order, one at a time.
“The team to get the most through in the fastest time wins,” explains Manning. “If you let either the blanks through or one that isn’t in order, you get disqualified.”
With their win, the team qualified to compete at the Wyoming State Fair in the youth ranch sorting event.
“We’re not entirely sure if we’re going to state fair, but we’re considering it,” says Manning.
“It would be a good experience, and we want to,” adds Mathews.
Manning and Mathews also competed individually in the working cow horse event, placing second and third, respectively, out of eight competitors.
“Working cow horse just shows you have control of the cow,” says Mathews.
Manning further explains, “We had to do a really simple reining pattern, and then they turn a cow out for you.”
Cow work in the event involves boxing a single cow, running it up and down the rail and maneuvering the animal through a tight figure eight pattern.
“You get judged on how well you complete each part, and how crisp and clean everything looks,” says Mathews.
Manning and Mathews have been working on Sublette County ranches for as long as they can remember.
“Just being on the ranch, you always have cattle to sort,” says Mathews. “Whenever a neighbor’s cattle get in, we have to corner and sort them out. We get our practice from everyday work.”
Aside from his horse work, Manning also showed a steer this year, earning the title of Reserve Champion FFA Showman with his 1,245-pound steer named Blaine.
“Showing steers is my main FFA project,” says Manning.
He also helps with a variety of chapter activities, including barbeques and the annual Christmas Tree hunt. Though he is only a junior, Manning is looking forward to attending college in the future, but he doesn’t have any concrete plans yet.
Mathews only competed in the horse show this year, opting not to show a steer.
“It’s the first year I haven’t shown a steer since I was able to show,” says Mathews. “I wanted to be out there showing and fitting again.”
Mathews says he spent fair this year helping out his fellow FFA and 4-H members.
For the future, Mathews will take a year to work on the ranch and take general online classes.
“Next year, I’m looking to go somewhere close, like UW or Sheridan College,” says Mathews. “I’ll probably study something related to agribusiness or agriscience.”
He is hoping to eventually work on or manage a ranch and says he may get a start on his grandparents’ ranch this year.
Manning and Mathews provide a prime example of young people who have developed their skills on the ranch and have used them to bring home top awards from the Sublette County Fair.
Be on the lookout for the team at State Fair and as up-and-coming ranchers in Wyoming.
Saige Albert is assistant editor at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.