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Round Pen Shoot Out comes to town

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RONAN — Taking an unbroken colt and turning it into a rideable horse can take months or even years at a normal pace, but three experienced horse trainers will step into a Ronan rodeo arena this weekend with intent to do the impossible: break a horse in three hours. 

The Rocky Mountain Breeders Association’s 3rd annual Round Pen Shoot Out will kick off Friday at 7 p.m., as five unbroken colts owned by Paul and Sharon Guenzler are ushered into the arena. 

“I’m not going to say they are untouched, but they have never been saddled or broken or anything,” show co-manager Mike Lyons said. “They’ve been handled very little.” 

The three horse trainers will take their pick of the five animals and enter into separate round pens to train them for two hours on Friday night, and one hour on Saturday night. 

At the end of the challenge, the contestants will have to mount their animals and walk them through an obstacle course that requires the horses to perform practical tasks, such as shutting a gate or walking over logs. 

“There will probably be half a dozen obstacles they will have to go through,” Lyons said. 

Judges will determine the winner of the event. 

Last year the event’s competitors were all local 20-something young cowboys just getting their start at horse breaking, but this year the organizers opted for more experienced, out-of-town trainers to put on the show. 

“These were about the best three guys you could find in the whole state,” Lyons said. 

Sparky Wallace of Fairfield brings a couple decades of horse experience to the ring. He also owns Cow Camp Supply, a saddle and gear company. 

“He makes chinks, he makes chaps, he makes saddles, reigns, spurs, he makes all sorts of different western attire,” show co-manager Ashley Schweigert said. 

Wallace will face off against Patrick Severance of Gallatin Valley and Jim Davis of Deer Lodge. 

Severance brings more than 25 years experience to the round pen. Severance’s skills are focused on developing horses that are safe for trails and the ranch. He is associated with Perfect Circle Horses found at Gallatin River Ranch near Manhattan, Montana. 

Competitor Davis also brings several decades of experience to the show. He got his start training horses as a youth and has spent much of his life since then cowboying. 

“He believes that ranch work is what sets up a strong foundation to build on, whether you are training a performance horse or quarter horse,” Schweigert said. 

The event is a true teaching event for anyone with a passion for horses, Schweigert said. The Rocky Mountain Breeders Association hopes to expand the event next year, and make it part of a multi-regional competition in the state where shoot outs are held in different areas, with finalists competing at the Northern International Livestock Exposition in Billings. 

This year’s competition will also be held in conjunction with several other horsemanship events sponsored by the KwaTaqNuk Resort and Flathead River Rodeo. 

On Saturday, an open 4-D barrel race will be held beginning at noon. The competition has $500 added to the jackpot. 

On Sunday, August 10 the RMBA Ranch and Horse Show begins at 10 a.m. 

The show puts horses through practical ranch tasks and has competition classes for young inexperienced riders up to older, more skilled horsemen. 

Schweigert said the show is a great way to come and see all of the ways horses are used on a ranch.

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