Stettler man pens history in Calgary Stampede event

Pat Bolin of Stettler still sits high on the saddle — and on top of the world — after winning the top prize in team cattle-penning

Pat Bolin of Stettler still sits high on the saddle — and on top of the world — after winning the top prize in team cattle-penning at the centennial Calgary Stampede last month.

Teaming up with brothers Joel and Jordan Lesh of Stillwater, Okla., Bolin and company captured the crown in the top open class.

The competition began with 300 professional teams.

“It’s your ultimate goal, to win the championship,” said Bolin, 59, who shared $13,248 with his teammates and won a Stampede buckle and a limited-edition centennial saddle, which is still being made for custom-fit.

“It’s been my goal ever since I started penning about 12 years ago, to win a Stampede buckle, and to do it on the 100th anniversary is more special.

“I’ve been close lots of times, but I hadn’t won it before.”

Bolin and the Lesh brothers finished their final round in 30.77 seconds and recorded an aggregate time of 121.98 seconds on 12 head of cattle in four rounds.

“It’s very tough competition,” Bolin said. “You’re competing against the best penners in the country.”

With cowboys eligible to compete on other teams, Bolin also finished third in the open class.

Wallace McComish and his team finished second in the 14 class, he noted.

Team-work is critical in team cattle-penning, as teams are given 60 seconds to separate three specifically-identified cattle from a herd of 30 and direct them into a 16-foot-by-24-foot pen at the opposite end of the arena.

Cattle-penning attracts a range of ages.

“I compete against boys as young as 10 years old to men as old at 85,” Bolin said.

“It’s a total family-oriented sport.”

While other horse events get much of the focus, team penning is just as popular with spectators at the Calgary Stampede, with an estimated crowd of 10,000 for the open class final, he said.

“It’s a great sport and lots of fun. Like any other sport, it always looks easier when you’re watching it.”

Bolin decided to enter the sport and starting training in Botha about 13 years ago.

Competing at his first Canadian Team Penning Finals in 1999, he and the team won the 7 class.

During the year, he’s also busy at other competitions in Alberta, western Canada and throughout the U.S.

This fall, he plans to compete in the U.S. Team Penning Finals in Ardmore, Okla., and the World Quarter Horse Show in Oklahoma City under the American Quarter Horse Association.