Stewart tops Stampede penning event
While record breaking numbers of Stampede-goers from around the world braved sweltering temperatures to take in events in Calgary, Canmore’s Bruce Stewart was working up a sweat in the Saddledome.
No, Stewart is not a late callup for the NHL’s Flames, rather, he and two teammates were collecting a victory in the Stampede team cattle penning competition, accepting a cheque for $39,396, silver Stampede buckles and carrying off a $10,000 Vic Bennett saddle each.
“It was particularly special that we were there for the 100th anniversary Stampede,” said Stewart, Thursday (July 26). Stewart, along with teammates Ben Thorlakson of Airdrie and Alex Hansen of Rocky View County, made it to the top 10 final after qualifying among almost 300 teams at a pre-event in Okotoks.
From the nearly 300 (270), 20 made it to a Stampede semi-final and then the top 10, in front of 10,000 people.
“We’ve done this for several years,” he said, “but we never got to the top 10. Because it was the centennial year, way more teams entered and there were Canadians and Americans there (in Okotoks), I’d never seen before.”
Stewart has been around horses all his life and dabbles in team roping, but cattle penning, he said, “is addicting, it’s my passion.”
With team cattle penning, three-man teams are put into the arena with 30 head of cattle, each of which is numbered. The action begins with the numbers of certain cattle being called out. The cowboys then work together to separate those animals and get them into a 16 x 24-foot pen, under the pressure of working against the clock and other teams’ best times.
“We’ve ridden together a lot and work well together,” said Stewart, “but it was pretty special being at the centennial.
“Cattle penning is like a game of football; there are so many scenarios and so many game plans. It’s high speed. You’re fighting the clock and you’re fighting the stock. It’s chaos at times and it’s all about reading the cattle.
“The thing is, like someone told me, ‘you can learn the rules in an hour, but it takes years to learn the game’.”
The three cowboys have horses on different properties and practice often, usually in the Airdrie area.
In order to post comments on our web site, you must validate your email address. An email was sent to you when you registered that included an activation link. If you have not yet done so, please click on the link to activate your account.
If you did not receive your activation email, please click here to have it resent.