Patterson carrying on a legacy

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Cinch steer roper following in father’s world championship footsteps

Cinch steer roper Cole Patterson is setting a new standard in his discipline, not only carrying on a family legacy but building on his own name and talent as he follows in the footsteps of his father, four-time world champion Rocky Patterson.

Cole Patterson is more than a student of the game. He’s the next generation, a world champion and son of a world champion.

“Being around these guys my whole life, I feel like I’ve been learning my whole life,” said Patterson, a Cinch endorsee and the 2021 steer roping titlist from Pratt, Kansas. “Guy Allen had all girls, and I feel like he treats me a little bit like a son. Trevor Brazile was always real open and helped me out if I ever had a question with him.”

Allen and Brazile are the two winningest cowboys in ProRodeo history. Allen owns 18 steer roping gold buckles, and Brazile has 26 in all, eight in steer roping. Oh, and Cole Patterson’s dad is Rocky, a four-time world titlist. He may have been a student, but he also had some pretty salty teachers.

“Nobody can copy anybody’s roping perfectly, but if you take a little bit of everybody and try to apply it to your game, then you can come up with a final product that will get you some success,” he said. “It seems like steer roping is an older guy’s game. Maybe the fact that I’m a little bit younger, it gives me a little bit of an athletic advantage.

“There’s really no telling what Trevor could have done if he didn’t have to focus on other events at the same time.”

While Brazile competed in three events regularly, Patterson is focused on one thing, and he’s found great success at it. He’s the No. 1 man in the world standings and has a $21,000 lead over the field. He’s virtually assured himself a fifth straight qualification to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, which will take place Nov. 17-18 near Mulvane, Kansas, less than 100 miles from his home.

He earned his first trip there in 2019, the same season he was the steer roping Resistol Rookie of the Year. In 2021, the season in which he strapped on that Montana Silversmiths gold buckle for the first time, he set a single-season earnings record with $190,242, launched by a finale-record of nearly $86,000. He joined his father on the mountaintop; they became just the third father-son duo to win steer roping world titles in PRCA history.

“Growing up, we went everywhere with my dad,” said Patterson, who attended both Western Oklahoma State College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. “He rodeoed full time. No matter when it was, there were always a bunch of those guys that had kids at the same time, so you had a bunch of friends that were the same age. We always had a (roping) dummy. From the time they started until they decided to leave, we had dummy ropings all day.”

To him, it was play. To his growing body and mind, it was training. Growing up in the Patterson home was typical to most rodeo kids. He grew accustomed to spending hours in a truck, sleeping in a small section of a living quarters horse trailer and spending long days at the rodeo grounds.

“We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor,” he said. “We had everything we needed. I think people have a misconception of me that everything was handed to me on a silver platter because I was the son of a world champion.

“All the information was there, but my dad made it a point that he wasn’t going to buy me the best horse out there. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I understand now that he was trying to instill in me some horsemanship and the ability to maintain a horse and keep him going.”

His mom, Shelly, opened doors for him by teaching him about the importance of being well-rounded and that family and faith were important. His dad instilled a work ethic in him and his brother, Caden.

“My dad has helped me my whole life,” Patterson said. “I got to practice with a world champion every day. I also had to do the practice myself.”

The lessons were sharp and pointed, but they dug a trench that continues to thrive. In his inaugural season four years ago, Patterson rode Dunny, a horse owned by his dad that was named the Steer Roping Horse of the Year.

“I started on Dunny and a few months into my rookie year, I bought a horse off a good friend of mine, Jared Flores, who helps me at the finals each year,” he said. “He wasn’t a steer horse at the time. He’d headed on him and heeled on him.

The dun horse was really good, never got in our way and was always a winner. The sorrel, Tigger, definitely stepped my game up. When he got seasoned and came into his own in 2021, we got the earnings record. He was totally different than Dunny. He was a phenomenal athlete. There’s nothing easy about him, but when you did everything right, you were going to win.”

Horsepower is vital in all rodeo events. Women won’t win in barrel racing or breakaway roping without good equine partners; steer wrestlers need great horses to be superstars; and ropers have an advantage when their mounts are top of the line.

Through college, Patterson was a tie-down roper and a team roper. He understands the importance of a good animal at various levels.

“Having a good horse is more important in steer roping,” he said. “If you don’t have a good horse, you don’t stand a chance out there. The ones that are winning and doing good, they all have that one thing in common, and it’s the fact that they have the best horses.”

They don’t just come along. Horses are trained for specific duties, and steer roping mounts need to have speed, stability and power to help through the process of a run. They have to know the physical and verbal cues that are necessary. It takes patience and an understanding of the animals to get them to that level. Patterson has spent a lifetime noticing what it takes to develop a good horse.

“Dad bought one or two horses in his career that were already made, but I would say most of his horses were the ones he made himself,” Patterson said. “He wasn’t afraid to do the work.”

That’s the cowboy way, something Cole Patterson knows well.

“I want to be known as a guy that was extremely hard to beat in the arena, but more importantly, I want to be remembered as someone who was a good guy, a family man,” he said. “I’d want to be remembered as someone that people want their kids to like.”


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