Armstrongs From Armstrong

Russell Armstrong of Armstrong,
B.C. really enjoys
team penning. One of the
things that he likes best about the
sport is the family atmosphere,
where you often find husbands and
wives penning together, or father
and son combinations. Armstrong
has experienced this family connection
for himself.
“I started penning when I was 12
or 13 years old,” Armstrong says.
“My dad was already competing
at the sport, and asked me to ride
with him. There were a lot of other
kids penning at the time, and I really
enjoyed it. Now I’m an adult and I’m
still penning, and my dad, who just
turned 70, still competes as well.
Oh, and my twin brothers, Justin
and Graham also pen.”
Last year Armstrong competed at
the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial,
hoping to earn a Vic Bennett trophy
saddle. Things didn’t go exactly as
he’d planned.
“I competed in several classes
at the 2012 Stampede and we had
some great runs,” he says. “In the 14
class my team placed second, which
was a thrill, but Justin and Graham
were on the team that won, so they
each earned a Centennial trophy
saddle. I was competing in the Open
class the next day, so hoped to earn
a saddle there, but once again we
placed second. Don’t get me wrong;
second is great, but I never did bring
home one of those trophy saddles.
And that’s too bad because I’ll be
over 120 years old at the Stampede’s
“The Stampede is one of those
shows that you really want to win,”
Armstrong continues. “It has the
best payout of any Canadian show,
and it has a lot of prestige. The big
boys from across the border often
come to the Stampede to pen, and
I enjoy competing against them.
When I tell my friends I did really
well at another penning competition,
they just yawn. But when I say
I did well at the Stampede, everyone
pays attention.”
Armstrong competes on his
15-year-old Quarter Horse mare,
Mary who was purchased from
Dave Burton, a professional team
penner located in Washington.
“Mary is a short little thing, but
she knows how to do her job,”
Armstrong says. “She can really
drive a cow up the arena. I get
along with her well, but at times
she can be a challenge and a real
handful. When she was younger,
I couldn’t even get her in the
arena for a while. Now she’s easier
to handle, but she still gets
all charged up after our run; she
vibrates and spins around. But all
horses have their quirks, and it’s
up to their riders to learn how to
manage those things.”
“Team penning is a sport that
spectators can really enjoy,” Armstrong
explains. “It’s fast, but it’s
something everyone can do. There
are people competing at all levels
— Open Class, 14 Class, 10 Class
and 7 Class. The action is easy to
follow — three guys are getting a
cow out of the herd. Sometimes it
goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t.
In fact, some people cheer for the
cows. They think it’s hilarious when
everything goes wrong, and in team
penning things can go wrong in a hurry."

By Heather Grovet
Galahad, Atla.

Thank you to Heather Grovet and Horsesall magazine for 

the article.

Russell Armstrong

Russell Armstrong

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