Riding atop a new horse while forming a new team of cattle penners doesn’t usually equal winning a championship belt buckle.
But for Enderby’s Doug Webb, who received his first Calgary Stampede buckle and $33,900, it was a recipe for good fortune.
“Winning the Calgary Stampede buckle is pretty top shelf,” he said.
A stampede buckle from one of the world’s most prestigious rodeos is renowned in the Canadian cowboy world.
“Everyone is hunting for that buckle.”
He remembers thinking “Yes! I got it,” when he was awarded the buckle for Team Cattle Penning Championship 10 Class.
The team of Webb, Christine Gray of Agassiz, and Travis Van Dongen from Maple Ridge, had only participated in the Kamloops Deer Country Challenge beforehand, and they didn’t perform well.
However, in Calgary “Webb led the pack all four rounds of the competition, posting a combined time of 150.730 with 12 head penned,” said a stampede press release.
Watt rode atop Rosee, a high-calibre horse he had borrowed from a friend since his own horse was injured.
“Horse power has a lot to do with it,” he said, along with a number of other factors.
The trick to winning is to understand cows.
“You have to anticipate where the cow’s (movements) are going to be,” he said.
A cattle penning team consists of a first rider, second rider and turn back.
As a first rider, Webb was the first teammate to separate the cow from the herd, while Gray and Van Dongen kept the herd calm.
The team’s goal is to cut certain numbered cattle apart from the herd, leading them into a separate pen.
“They’re herd animals, their natural instinct is to get back to the herd. You have to have the horse at the right angle” he said.
The 42-year-old owner of D. Webb Contracting Limited wasn’t nervous during the ride, but his heart raced in the saddle room.
“But after that I focused on the job and all those thoughts go away because it’s game time,” he said.
When people get nervous, they make mistakes, he said.
“It’s a downfall for a lot of teams.”
Webb felt confident with his team.
They qualified for the stampede in Okotoks, Alta., making it into the top 10.
He also has a history with his teammates outside of cattle penning.
“The horse world is a small world,” he said.
He was friends with Van Dongen for a number of years before the competition, and goes on rides with Gray and her husband.
In October, he will look to add a Canadian title to his resumé as he competes in the national championships.
As a child, Webb spent time in Saskatchewan at his uncle’s farm, riding horses with his cousins.
He owes his love of cattle penning to his wife of 10 years, Chantelle Prentice, who also rides.
He got into the sport in 2011, practised penning and was hooked.