Press

February 2017 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Stran_headshotAs a sports fan, this is one of my favorite times of the year. NFL and College playoffs are going on right now.  I have the opportunity to listen to sports talk radio a lot while I am feeding my cows.  I always enjoy listening to the older, retired players and their perspective of when they played this time of the year.   It has made me reflect on my own career.  I came to this conclusion.  Some things you never get over.  You just learn to live with them.  I will never forget one particular moment in my life.  It was in 2005 after the 10th go round at the WNFR.  I came into that go round in the lead, won the go round, but lost the gold buckle by $1400.00.  Now up this point, every time you win a go round, you take a victory lap, and go to a huge buckle presentation at the South Point Hotel and Casino.  Usually I would be ecstatic to win a go round, but I am numb and disgusted that I had lost the World Championship.  I was walking down the media tunnel underneath the Thomas and Mack and passed a PRCA employee who nonchalantly tossed my go round buckle to me.  I stopped and immediately took my San Anton buckle off (one that I had worn my whole career) and put this 10th go round buckle on my belt.  I wanted a consistent reminder of that feeling, and a visible reminder to never let that happen again.

Fast forward 3 long years, past a couple of surgeries and many sleepless nights. In 2008, I was very fortunate to win the World Championship.  Looking back now, I wouldn’t change the way things played out.  It was all God’s perfect timing.  The journey was an experience I will never forget.

I feel like it’s very important to never be satisfied but learn to be content. My good friend, Marcos Costa, had a couple of really bad breaks that cost him a gold buckle.  We have discussed it several times since WNFR.  He could dwell on those breaks, or simply realize that it just wasn’t his time.  If I know anything, it’s Romans 8:28… “God works in all things.”  If we will allow God to work in HIS time, the result will be better than you can ever imagine.

The good and the bad about gold buckles is only a few are privileged to win them. I am so pleased for Tyson Durfey.  I know this has been a dream come true for he and his dad.  He has worked so hard, and it is very well deserved.  Congratulations to Tyson and his whole family.  Nothing like celebrating Christmas with a precious healthy baby and a gold buckle to boot.  Congratulations to all of the World Champions.  You have reached the pinnacle of your sport.

Until next time God bless and I’ll see you down the line.

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December 2016 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Our presidential election is over and we now have a new president. Whether you agree with our Nation’s choice or not, it’s time to move on.  I’ve never been one to dwell on the past.  I never believe you get anywhere in life by throwing your sucker in the dirt.  In Joshua 1:2, God said, “Moses is dead, Get up and go.”  I’ve got news for you.  Ronald Reagan isn’t coming back.  It is time to get up and move forward.

There are 2 types of people in this world. People that sit around and wait for things to happen and people that go out and make things happen.   It’s almost like the fight or flight theory.  I feel like there is only one way to face your fears… That’s head on.  Have the fireman reaction.  Most people run out of a burning building, while the fireman runs into the burning building.  Don’t run away from an uncomfortable situation.  Meet your challenges head on.  When David, a seventeen-year-old boy, faced Goliath, a Philistine giant warrior that had killed thousands of men, he ran to him with only a slingshot and a stone.

Most people say they want to be successful, but they don’t want it bad enough to sacrifice their time, their body, and their desires. A fan once told Beethoven, “I’d give anything if I could play the piano like you.”  His reply was, “No you wouldn’t.” A guy, the secret to success is no secret at all.  The book “Outliers” talks repeatedly about the importance of time spent.  People say, “I don’t have time to do…   “  Make the time. Set your alarm.  Talent is God given.  Skill is developed by hours of practice.

People that think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones that do. If you want to succeed bad enough, YOU WILL.

 

Until next time,

God bless and I’ll see you down the line.

Stran T

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November 2016 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I was out doing some work on the ranch the other day. I had a guy helping me.  He comes out from time to time when we really need him.  I couldn’t help but notice what a joyful attitude he had… 30 miles from nowhere in the middle of a hot and dusty cattle pen how one person’s attitude changed the entire atmosphere.  A high pressure, stressful job was transformed into a pleasant day just because of this one man’s attitude.

More times than not, I’m ashamed to say, my attitude is not always as positive as I would like it be. I feel like my profession has always made me more of an “instant results” driven person.   As I am learning, some of my techniques don’t always work as well with others as they do with myself.   I am reminded that attitude is a reflection of leadership. I feel like the right attitude is a POSITIVE attitude and for myself personally, that means my words, my actions, and even my thoughts. I have heard from people very close to me that my thoughts have a way of coming out in my expressions, tone of voice, and actions.  And it happens that way for all of us, good or bad. In fact the Webster dictionary definition of attitude is:

– A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something typically is reflected in a person’s behavior.

I think whenever you start anything in life you should start with a good attitude, but it’s more important to learn to maintain a good attitude.  It was always easy for me to start practice with a good attitude.  I got so excited to rope.   But it never failed, this was going to be challenged somewhere along the session.  A horse wouldn’t work or calf didn’t cooperate and my attitude changed.

I always thought the older and more mature and experienced I became, this would get easier. Little did I know, that is not the case at all.  I have been blessed beyond measure with a wife and children and with them we acquired a few ponies, dogs, cats, etc, etc.  Although these people and things are a HUGE blessing in my life, nothing in life is perfect.  Challenges arise, relationships take work, and children need guidance.  The bottom line is, STUFF HAPPENS.   A good friend once told me that it’s not if things happen, but WHEN things happen and how we deal with it.  Attitude is about 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how we handle it.

God Bless and See You Down the Line,

Stran T

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The Cactus Story: 25 Years of Twisting Fate

25th annivThe legacy that is Cactus started 25 years ago when a couple farmers and a NFR rodeo cowboy had the idea to start a team rope company. Little did they know two and a half decades later, their brand would be one of the most recognized and valued names in the entire western industry.

“Cactus” Jack Stephenson grew up ranching, training horses, and rodeoing in south Texas. His list of his accomplishments in the rodeo arena are many, including a trip to the NFR where he headed for his son Jacky. Jack also won the very first George Strait Team Roping Classic with Jacky and then won it a second time with Rich Skelton. That was the first time George gave trucks to the champions. While in the middle of rodeoing, breaking colts, and riding feedlots, “Cactus” Jack as they called him, also thought it would be a great time to start a rope company. He needed some help for his big idea to get kicked off, and ended up calling on two good friends; Joe Mathews and Mike Piland.

Before Mike got the call from Cactus Jack, he and his partner were farming, ranching and ginning cotton in the Winter Garden area south of San Antonio, Texas. When Jack approached Mike and Joe about the idea of a rope company, none of them had any idea how to make a rope, but they decided to give it a go. With that Cactus Ropes was born.

“The guy pulled up and unloaded about 50 million pieces out of the back of his truck and trailer and then just drove off!” Mike said. “We bought this old string twisting machine and it was the most complicated thing I’d ever seen! It didn’t have an instruction manual, parts list, or nothing!”

Mike and Cactus Jack, with lots of help from Barry Berg and others, got the twisting machine up and running and eventually started producing their first rope; the Bad Boy. Jack’s other son Robb was the first to learn to correctly coil the ropes and was instrumental in creating a rope that felt good to the customers.

“Allen Bach was the guy who helped us tweak the body and feel of those first ropes until we got them just right” Jack said. “We pulled another kid out of the feedlot (Barry Berg) and he came on board to tweak the machinery, work with Allen, and help test all the new ropes.”

Fast forward to today and Jack is still roping and training horses around Pleasanton, Texas. Mike still goes to the rope shop every day, Robb is still on the rope floor coiling away, and that kid they pulled out of the feedlot, Barry Berg, is now the General Manager of the whole business.

Through some purchases and acquisitions, the Cactus brand also grew into one of the largest saddle companies in the United States, as well as becoming a household name in leg protection and horse blankets. Cactus Saddlery now builds all the PRCA World Champion saddles, WNFR Average Saddles, The American Saddles, World Series Finale saddles and also supplies American Made trophy products to most all major roping and rodeo associations in the country. Cactus Gear has a full line of leg protection and equine products that are used by horse owners of all disciplines. Cactus also produces the full line of Trevor Brazile’s Relentless products including ropes, sport boots, saddles, tack and pads. Many other professionals look to the Cactus brand including barrel racers like Fallon Taylor­ who partnered up with Cactus to design and introduce the Dynamic Edge line of tack, pads, leg protection, and barrel saddles. Heel­O­Matic Training Systems also joined the team along the way, and the top Cactus Cowboys in the game, such as Clay O’Brien Cooper, Chad Masters, and Jake Long are constantly helping with ideas and designs that will help ropers with practice and horsemanship.

The Cactus story is one of passion, drive and vision. Jack, Mike, Barry, the Cactus Crew, and everyone over the 25 years that had a hand in building the company are proud, honored, and humbled to be associated with a brand that has stood the test of time. If you are ever in south Texas around San Antonio, come on over. Mike will tell you the whole story and you will more than likely end up in the rope room with Barry and Robb swinging the newest innovation in nylon and poly technology.
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Written by: Dru Stewart

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May 2016 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I have had so many questions about STS Ranchwear and how our vision has grown beyond that to be a successful brand.   I kind of scratch my head too at times.  We reached our 5 years goals and the end of 2 years, and just keep growing.  It’s been an unbelievable journey and blessing to watch the brand explode and grow beyond our expectations.

All successful ventures in my life have been built around relationships. This has been no exception to the rule.  I still remember Jen and I sitting at a table with our partner and friend, Chad Fairchild to create, brand, and write our mission statement for what is now STS Ranchwear.   We all had a vision of creating a lifestyle brand true to our values of integrity, dedication, hard work, commitment, and built around tradition.

may stsranchwear

There have been a few things that I feel have really helped to catapult the brand.

Quality Product – ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS!  I want something that can withstand long hours of work in and out of the saddle.  Jen has worked for years now to make sure the leathers and serapes of her bags are the highest quality.  If they are not, we work to fix them.  Chad always tells people that he never knows what condition our samples come back from the ranch looking like.  We test everything on the ranch before it goes into production.

A True Lifestyle Brand – I AM a 4th generation cowboy.  We live this lifestyle everyday.  It truly is more than the romance for me.  It has to be authentic.  People can smell a fake 2 miles away.

Partners and People – Everyone on our team believes in the brand, the product, and the lifestyle.    Everyone throughout the entire chain, from development to shipping takes pride in the brand and what we are doing.  I always joke and say that I am just a crash test dummy, but in reality I am very particular about everything we do, from display fixtures all the way to the kind of zippers we use.  This is not something we hand off to someone to handle.  We feel it is very important to be hands on.

I just want to personally thank everyone that has supported us on this venture. We are so grateful that you see the value in the western way of life.  We love our customers because we believe you are our people.

Until next time, God Bless and I’ll see you down the line,

Stran T

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April 2016 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

stran april 4A couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing experience with an unbelievable group of people who are changing lives through what they love. Whenever I showed up at Hamilton, TX to teach this school, I knew it would be good, but I had no idea how life changing it as going to be. Equine Champions For Christ was created by Kenny Hague, Jo Hague, and Michael Goertz in early 2008. They all volunteer their time and efforts to come up with some of the best clinics possible. They aren’t the only ones involved. An overwhelming number of volunteers work diligently behind the scenes to make these camps possible. Everything is done with the highest degree of excellence. They do all of this at NO CHARGE to the young people who attend.

E.C.F.C. is such an amazing ministry because it gave me the opportunity stran april 2to sow life into these boys in and out of the arena. It doesn’t matter if these boys are future world champions or will only rope as a hobby, this clinic gave me a chance to be able to truly help God show each one of these guys their value.  Everyone working this clinic wanted these boys to know they have a specific calling and a plan for their life. Students came from all over the United States and Canada, but over the course of three days, formed a camaraderie that couldn’t be explained.

I always tell my students that I will get way more out of the clinic than they do in one way or another, and once again this rang true. I was truly blessed beyond measure.  I usually leave a clinic mentally and physically exhausted, but I left this one motivated and rejuvenated spiritually.  I told Kenny to start planning another one for this summer.

stran april 3Put their website and Facebook page on your radar. The last clinic filled up quickly.

equinechampionsforchrist.com

God bless and see you down the line,

Stran T

 

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MARCH 2016 (DOWN THE LINE, STRAN SMITH)

            Lunch at the Sixes

            Recently I had to deliver some bulls that the 6666 Ranch had bought from me. I had the pleasure of taking my dad with me to have lunch at the ranch headquarters in Guthrie. When we got there they had a feast prepared, which from my understanding is the way they eat everyday. Im talking about real cowboy food. Fried round steaks, not that chicken fried steak you get at the restaurants,and all the good stuff that goes with it. Cream gravy, creamed potatoes, homemade pecan pie and homemade ice cream. For those who know me I don’t let my self indulge very often, and I indulged. Needless to say I broke a few of my dietary rules. After lunch we went out to the porch of the bunk house and sat down and visited for awhile before everybody had to go their separate ways. They had to get horseback to prowl because they are calving over 3000 heifers right now and I had to get back home and load all my stuff to go to Fort Worth for the American.

On my way home I was thinking about some of my favorite times of my life and some of my favorite people that have probably influenced me more than anybody. It got me reminiscing about sitting down and eating and listening to stories my granddad, my dad, and other old timers would tell. That day at the sixes my dad and Boots O’neil were sharing some of their memories of old times. With both of them being in their mid 80s I was amazed at how everyone just sat and listened. Nobody else was saying a word while the spoke which shows the level of respect that is shown in that atmosphere. My dad and Boots weren’t telling stories to entertain anyone but ironically it captivated everyone around.

When I’m home dinner is my favorite time of day. It’s a time where I can sit and eat and listen to my little ones talk about their days. It shows me how important it is to take time to sit down and eat with your family and friends. My family and I try to get together and eat whenever we can. It’s something that has gotten away from our society. The way I see it the table should be a very intimate place in our life. It’s where we share life with one another. It’s where we invite people to be part of our life. As strange as it may sound the table is a place where we want to become food for one another. Every meal, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, can become a time of growing closer to one another. When is the last time you have sat down with your friends and family and really took time?

Until next time. God Bless and see you down the line.

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February 2016 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

New Year’s Resolution? Not me!

I really don’t like New Year’s Resolutions because to me it’s just a fad and people nearly always break their resolutions. Every year my routine is to set aside a little bit of time to reflect on the past year and review and grade things that I’ve tried to accomplish in the previous year. For the past few years I start the New Year off with a fast. I do this for three different reasons: mind, body, and spirit. It’s good physically for you. You can use it as a body detox. It’s good mentally for you. It shows you that you can do something that your body is telling you that you can’t. Third and most important it’s good spiritually. It lets my heavenly Father know that he has control of every part of my life.

When I started doing this years ago it seemed like the main thing I was focused on was my personal career goals. As I’ve gotten older it seems like my goals of course have changed, but there are not as many short term goals as there is long. In fact they’ve gotten broader and with less attention to time. This year I didn’t just focus on goals. This year I broke it down into four things. Goals is still at the top of my list, but the second thing that was at the top was ideas. Small minded people talk about people. Average minded people talk about events. Great minded people talk about ideas. The third thing that I wanted to focus on was “things that are working”. In order to look at the things that are working you have to acknowledge the things that are NOT working and be disciplined enough to eliminate those things. The fourth is “Things that must get done”. I’m a big “list” person. Every day I have a list. Some days I get nothing checked off. Some days I check off everything, but I always have a list going. If I don’t write it down it seems like I don’t get it done. I’m not saying that my system would work for everybody, but that’s just it. I do think you have to have a system. I encourage you to figure out something that works for you. When you aim at nothing you hit nothing.

 

God Bless and see you down the line

Stran

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November 2015 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This is always a hectic time of the year for me. I used to think it was because I was trying to get ready to rope at the NFR. In fact that was probably the simplest time of getting ready, because all I did was focusing on roping at the finals. And now I’ve got two boys that are playing basketball. I’m calving my commercial heifers out. We are AI’ing my registered cows. I’m shipping my commercial calves. I’m helping Marcos get ready to rope at his first NFR. I’m trying to line guests up for the NFR Countdown Show Jennifer and I do every night at the MGM before the rodeo. I’m serving on the Elevation Sunday team. And trying to inventory six different STS Ranchwear retail booths during the NFR. I didn’t know how good I had it when all I had to worry about was roping one calf a night.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from rodeo is how to keep my eye on the long term goals. I heard a quote the other day that is rodeo in a nutshell for me. “Every road has two ditches” . Which means if you don’t keep your eye on the goal it’s a whole lot easier to fall off in the ditch. It seems like lots of people that I talk to these days it’s a familiar thing about how busy we are, and it’s so easy to get distracted by the world around you. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”. Which brings me back to this time of year. You need to stay focused on all the good things you have going on and not let the little negative things distract you. I always try to use the thanksgiving season for just that. Stepping back and taking a breath and realize all the things that I do have to be thankful for. Like being able to watch my boys play basketball and being able to share the excitement of Marcos’s first WNFR.

I want to congratulate Marcos on winning the AQHA calf-roping horse of the year in the PRCA and winning the AQHA senior open calf roping at the World Show on Sweet As Time aka “Sweet Pea”. And congratulations to all the other contestants who made the 2015 WNFR.

 

Come watch me and Jennifer every night at 6:00 at the MGM for the WNFR Countdown which also airs live on wranglernetwork.com

 

Stop by our retail booths which will be located at:
Cowboy Christmas at Las Vegas Convention Center
Christmas Corral by BootBarn at The MGM
NRS at South Pointe Hotel and Casino
Sands Convention Center
Mandalay Bay Giftshow

God bless and see you down the line!

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October 2015 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Everybody that wants to be an elite roper has a goal to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. That goal is hard to attain for any young rodeo athlete, much less a young man that wasn’t born and raised in North America. I couldn’t be more proud of my “adopted son” Marcos Costa. Marcos came to the United States from Brazil, didn’t know our culture, didn’t know our language, and didn’t know anything about Pro Rodeo other than what he had seen on TV. Imagine having to get a driver’s license in a country when you can’t even read the test. Marcos left his family, his friends, and everything he knew to come to a foreign country and chase his dream. All Marcos knew was that he had a dream of making the National Finals.   To see the journey from start to finish has been amazing. If you know me at all, you know that I truly LOVE to rope. I love the sport of calf roping. It has been my lifetime passion.   I have a true appreciation and connection with people that have that same passion and drive. People have patted me on the back for giving Marcos a home and helping him rodeo, but Marcos has brought so much joy to my life. He inspires me daily. Not only is he a great person, a great roper, but he is also a great horseman. Marcos took a six year old green mare and not only made the National Finals on her, but won 2015 AQHA Horse of the Year.

For me, it’s inspired me to be more for others when called upon. Everybody is on his or her own journey and everybody has a dream. How many people do we come in contact with that we could probably help, even if it is only in a small way, move forward in achieving their goals or reaching their destiny? I’ve seen a lot of great things through the course of my career by watching other pro athletes’ careers. I’ve tried to help where I could, even if it is in a small way. It always amazes me how much you get back when you give. The floodgates open and bring so much joy and satisfaction.

Congratulations to all of the 2015 WNFR qualifiers, I am excited to watch this year’s NFR. Jen and I will be hosting the Wrangler NFR Countdown show again this year at the MGM Grand. You can catch the telecasts on the Wrangler Network. I am excited to announce my friend, Aaron Watson will be singing and speaking at Elevation Sunday on December 6th at the MGM Grand. He latest album has blown up the charts and I am amazed how every song speaks life to people.

Keep up with our social media for latest NFR updates.

God Bless and I’ll see ya down the line.

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