PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Patterson wins PRCA Steer Roping championship

  • In his 15th trip to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, Pratt cowboy Rocky Patterson finally picked up his first world championship.

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  • In his 15th trip to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, Pratt cowboy Rocky Patterson finally picked up his first world championship.
    Patterson, who had finished second in the standings twice, placed in seven of ten rounds at the finals, plus picked up a third-place check in the average to squeak past 2008 champion Scott Snedecor for the gold buckle.
    Patterson’s average check of $11,322 pushed his season earnings total to $80,923 — about a thousand dollars more than Snedecor’s total of $79,492.
    In all, Patterson pocketed $31,823 at the ten-round finals event, held last weekend in Guthrie, Okla.
    The 1992 PRCA Steer Roping Rookie of the Year, Patterson has chased the world title for several years, saying that it’s his goal every year.
    “This year I finally got over the hump,” he added.
    To get over that hump, Patterson traveled to rodeos in a number of Midwest and Western states.
    He listed several towns in south Texas; Dodge City; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Pendleton, Ore.; and Ellensburg, Wash., as just a few places on his 2009 schedule.
    “I went to about all the states from here west,” he said.
    He’ll also be making a trip to Las Vegas next month to accept his gold buckle along with the world champions who’ll be crowned at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
    Because steer roping requires a large arena, the event’s finals cannot be held as part of the WNFR, which takes place in the Thomas and Mack Center — also home to the UNLV basketball team.
    Patterson grew up competing in rodeos, and has nodded his head in every PRCA timed event at some level.
    In high school and college, he competed in team roping, calf roping and steer wrestling, but after school decided to try his hand at steer roping.
    “I always wanted to rope steers in high school and college, but I didn’t have the time or money,” he said.
    Beginning in 1991, Patterson switched his focus from team roping, calf roping and steer wrestling to steer roping — one of the two original rodeo events.
    Steer ropers must catch the horns of the steer, much like a header in the team roping, then use their rope to set up a “trip” to knock the steer to his side.
    Once the steer is on the ground, the roper dismounts, runs down the rope, and ties three legs like a calf roper would.
    “It’s how you doctored cattle by yourself,” Patterson said of the event’s roots in ranch life.
    Like most rodeo events, steer roping has seen its rules adapted to fit the modern rodeo arena, but a steer roping horse still needs the same set of skills as it did when the event first began.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The horse has to have some speed, needs to be strong for the jerk, and it has to be able to stand out there on the end of the rope facing the crowd,” Patterson said, adding that a spooky or easily distracted horse won’t do well in steer roping. “They’ve got to stay there, looking into the crowd. Age is a little more important than in other events.”
    Patterson rode a 15-year-old horse that he recently purchased at the 2009 finals, and that age range is fairly common among the top steer roping horses, simply because an older horse tends to stay focused better in the arena.
    Patterson qualified for his first finals in 1994, and has been at every finals since then except for the 1996 edition.
    He has finished second in the world twice and has around 12 top-five finishes to his credit.
    After taking a short break from competing, Patterson will head south early in January for the first PRCA steer roping competition of the 2010 season in Odessa, Texas.
    That will mark the beginning of another busy season for Patterson as he looks to defend his world championship.
    Patterson and his wife Shelly have two sons — Cole, 14, and Caden, 10.

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