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Inspirational Equation Brings Pratt Rodeo Family Together For Steer Roping Finals

What could make any cowboy happier than having a son following his boot steps while riding Dad’s world’s best horse?
 
Likely not anything and multiple times’ world champion steer roper Rocky Patterson sure knows that feeling.
 
There’s much more to the story then can be said in one sentence. Cole Patterson has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (this one in Kansas) alongside his Dad.
 
That’s accompanying Cole being recognized as Steer Roping Rookie of the Year the title his Dad won 27 years earlier.
 
All this whilst the 24-year-old cowboy was riding Dad’s horse nicknamed Dunny honored as Steer Roping Horse of the Year.
 
Simple as can be said of such remarkable accomplishments: “This is special,” the senior roper Dad proudly acknowledged.
 
The Patterson father and son who ranch at Pratt when not on the fulltime rodeo trail are headed to Mulvane.
 
It’s for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping (NFSR) at the Kansas Star Arena November 22nd and 23rd.
 
“Like father, like son, a family affair,” is the way another writer described the stars’ accomplishments.
 
Dad Rocky has collected four world championships 2009, 10, 12 and 16, moving into this year’s title bout ranked eighth. That’s for winning $40,814 in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) competitions around the country in the 2019 season.
 
Son Cole, sometimes competing again his Dad in those rodeos, ended the year placing 13th. That tally’s among all steer ropers yet highest winnings among the rookies’ first year steer roping competitors with $38,251. The second place rookie professional steer roper took home checks totaling only $4,473.
 
This weekend the senior Patterson will be making his 25th NFSR appearance second in count only to legendary Guy Allen. That 18-time world champion steer roper has been to the finals 33 times.
 
Cole is a lifetime rodeo cowboy but not always as a steer roper. “I think I was 14 or 15 when Dad let me tie my first steer, and he only let me tie about two or three,” Cole reflected. “He told me that was all I could tie until I graduated from college.”
 
The senior Patterson serves as head coach of the rodeo team at Pratt Community College and conducts youth roping clinics.
 
 In high school and college, Cole collected both tie-down roping and team roping titles and completed two college agriculture degrees.  He soon entered professional rodeo competition as a steer roper.
 
“My goal was to qualify with Dad for the national finals,” Cole said. “It’s very rare that you get to compete with any family members at the finals. Very few people get to experience something like that.”
 
Dan Fisher of Andrews, Texas, qualified for the steer roping finals two years with two of his sons. Vin Fisher Jr. and J. Tom Fisher roped with and against their Dad there in both 2010 and 2013.
 
Besides cowboy genes and obviously the most qualified and best coach one could find Cole has the essential horsepower. Owned by his Dad and actually ridden by father and son Dunny was named Steer Roping Horse of the Year.
 
Registered as Mr. Blackburn Chex 113, the dun gelding’s honor was given by the American Quarter Horse Association.  The 14.2 hands, 1,100-pound nine-year-old was voted by the top 25 cowboys in the world.
 
“There’s so many great horses out there,” Cole credited. “For the other cowboys to think that my horse was the best is a pretty good honor.”
 
Evaluating the top horse, Cole acknowledged, “Dunny is easy going outside the arena and pulls a 180 when it’s time to compete.
 
“He always stays out of your way and has always been a good fit for me,” Cole continued. “Dunny has never cost me anywhere, and I cost myself enough. He’s laid back and doesn’t get fired up about anything. Dunny just likes to eat and hang out. So when we practice he gets through it, but is more excited about being done.”
 
Evaluating his Rookie of the Year recognition, Cole said, “It’s a heck of an honor. But I spent all year more worried about making the finals. The rookie title actually took care of itself.”
 
Still, the entire road has been a dedicated effort. “Making the finals took tons of hard work and long days in the practice pen. I studied where to get better, faster and smoother watching videos of myself and other ropers.
 
“I picked up little things that others do better than another. You watch 15 of the best who do it and try to take a bit from everyone,” Cole explained.
 
His top performance money-wise this year came at the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Frontier Days in July where he earned $6,978.
 
“You just can’t ever worry about the long term picture,” Cole said. “You have to just take it one steer at a time. If you make the best run you can every time you nod, it’ll eventually take care of itself.
 
“You have some bad days, but you have to do your job every time. Then they’ll run the right steer in there for you,” Cole insisted.
 
Rocky Patterson’s biggest 2019 check was at the National Circuit Finals Steer Roping in Torrington, Wyoming, during April worth $5,213.
 
Actually the steer roping finals won’t be new for Cole having watched his Dad all those years.  “I’m just going to try to enjoy it and not let everything go by too fast because they say the weekend can be a blur.
 
“It seems like the guys who get off to a bad start, they can’t get it turned around. Hopefully, I will get off to a good start and not have time to think about things,” Cole scrutinized.
 
Certainly, there’ll be roping, coaching wisdom from his Dad Rocky and Mom Shelly to seek advice should the need arise.
 
“It has been a lot of fun getting to travel with Cole this year,” Rocky declared.
 
Still when their steer gets in the chute and cowboy nods, it’ll be Dad and against son, best roper wins.

Frank J. Buchman
Published on 2019-11-18