It was all smiles on Friday for the Armstrong brothers from Armstrong, B.C.
Russell, 29, and twins Graham and Justin, 28, captured the top spot with their blazing speed and teamwork in the Calgary Stampede Open Class - Team Cattle Penning competition with the best score of the day.
Team cattle penning is a show of athleticism and skills as horse and rider square off against the herd instincts of cattle.
The fast-paced event gives a team of three riders on horseback 60 seconds to separate three specifically identified cattle from a herd of 30 and get them into a 20’ x 24’ pen at the opposite end of the arena. Teamwork is the key to success with all three riders working in harmony to cut out the correct cattle and drive them to the pen.
The Calgary Stampede Team Cattle Penning Championships features teams vying for championship buckles in four different classes, each determined by the skill and experience of the competitors.
This wasn’t the first win for the Armstrongs at the Calgary Stampede - the threesome have had many triumphs since they started penning when they were kids in 2002 - but it’s definitely their favourite.
“This is probably one of the biggest rushes I’ve had team penning in my life,” said oldest brother, Russell.
“The crowd was fantastic. It’s pretty rare that we get to have a crowd like that… and the fact we get to come to the Stampede, one of the biggest stages that there is for horse sports and do what we love, is unbelievable.”
Scores were close until the Armstrong brothers, who went last, added to their round one best score of 32.69 with an even stronger score of 29.55 the second time around. The win earned them $19,236.
“It was a fantastic day – the best day of penning I’ve ever had,” said Graham.
Justin credits the Armstrong brothers’ successes to their lifelong bond and their balanced approach to the sport.
“It’s good knowing what the other person is going to do, so there are no surprises with these guys. They’re pretty reliable and we’ve ridden together a lot.”
“We’re pretty consistent with our approach. It’s a good balance of risk and reward, though we don’t win every time, for obvious reasons,” Justin laughed.
The Armstrong brothers will be competing all weekend but said it will be hard to top the euphoric feeling of winning the Open Class on Friday.
“We beat the guys from the states; Oklahoma, Texas, California, all the best guys come to this show because of the prestige of the Calgary Stampede. That’s why it means so much to win the Open Class here, it’s just so awesome,” Russell added.
For full results from the Open Class – Team Cattle Penning, please visit ag.calgarystampede.com/results.
About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together, we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
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