Are You Uncomfortable Enough? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

We’re here in Vegas during the NFR and Jennifer and I are having a blast doing our nightly show, “The Draw,” at the MGM Hollywood Theater. We’ve had some great guests and it’s been a lot of fun.

Last night during dinner, I was approached and asked to entertain or talk to a crowd for five or six minutes while two bands changed. I’m asked to speak a lot, but it’s usually about something I know. This was a crowd that was pumped up from the music and eagerly anticipating the next band. With no preparation and “shooting from the hip,” it was a perfect opportunity for me to fall flat on my face. The thought of it made me very uncomfortable and that very fact clenched it for me.

Anytime I get a chance to stretch myself and leave my comfort zone I try to accept it as challenge for myself. Tell me I have to rope a calf in 6.8 to win a gold buckle and that doesn’t bother me. I’ve trained and trained hard for that. Getting up on a stage in front of a lively crowd, that pressures me.

I called Stetson, my nephew, up on the stage where I bragged on him and talked to him about making his first NFR. The crowd loved hearing about what it’s like behind the scenes and Stetson’s rookie year.

My parents have always been a great example to me when there’s a job that needs to be done. There’s not a lot of fanfare, just get it done, whatever it takes. I try to carry that work ethic and mentality with me. Never do I want to feel like I’m too big or good for a job that needs doing. It’s important to stay humble and I want this passed on to my children.

It’s easy to get used and abused in Las Vegas. However, this deal took ten minutes of my time and I was able to help my nephew get his feet wet in this type of situation. He got some experience speaking in front of a crowd and felt safe with me during the process. Speaking in front of crowds is intimidating but gets easier with time.

To be a rodeo professional and enjoy success with your sponsors and fans, you need to be well rounded. Watch professional ball players and how they’re pulled in every direction and interviewed all the time, especially after being defeated. I promise you, talking to anyone is the last thing they feel like doing at that moment.

Every occupation has things you don’t want to do. I look at it as training days. If I don’t want to do something because it makes me uncomfortable, and it’s the right thing to do, then it’s game on. It’s a challenge I need to conquer. I got this.

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


Press Release: HOOey Calf Rope & HOOey Youth Rope

For more information, contact: Dru Stewart, VP Marketing Pro Equine roup
Phone: (903) 441.0700

Cactus Ropes Introduces – HOOey Calf Rope & HOOey Youth Rope
Cactus Ropes is excited to announce a partnership that will rock tie-down and breakaway ropers everywhere!

HOOey, one of the hottest hat and apparel brands in the Western industry, has partnered with Cactus Ropes to design a one-of-a-kind calf rope. This straight poly is the first in its class to have the lay, body, and feel that is comparable to traditional grass ropes.

“I have always admired Cactus, first as a roper and now as a partner in developing this new rope,” explained Hooey’s Joey Austin. “Our teams have not only worked together to get the right feel, but we wanted to ensure this rope stays consistent run after run.”

The HOOey Calf Rope takes the traits of a grass rope, such as more body in an extra soft lay and less stretch, and pumps them into a full poly rope. For the first time ever, this rope will offer an unparalleled feel with the consistency of a poly. The HOOey Calf Rope is available in sizes from 9.0 to 10.75.

For young roping athletes, Cactus took the design one step further and developed a youth rope with the exact traits of the HOOey Calf Rope. The HOOey Youth Rope is also 100 percent poly and offers ropers the perfect balance and size for fun or competition.

Cactus Ropes products are used by top athletes like Trevor Brazile, Chad Masters and Clay O’Brien Cooper, just to name a few. Cactus Ropes is part of the Pro Equine Group, which includes Cactus Gear, Cactus Saddlery, Fastback Ropes and HeelOMatic.

To find a retailer near you, visit


Jarrett taking business to NFR

2005 All-Around World Champion Ryan Jarrett

For information (660) 254-1900
Contact Ted Harbin

Jarrett taking business to NFR
COMANCHE, Okla. – Ryan Jarrett is a cowboy, and rodeo is his business.

Right now, business is good. Jarrett, the 2005 all-around world champion from Comanche, will return to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the eighth qualification of his career. While in Las Vegas for the Dec. 5-14 championship, Jarrett hopes to collect his fair share of the $6.25 million purse.

“Each and every year, I try to rodeo a little smarter,” said Jarrett, originally from Summerville, Ga., now living in southern Oklahoma with his wife, Shy-Anne. “It doesn’t always seem to work that way. My plan when I start the year is to go to rodeos I feel comfortable at and where I dang sure know we’ll rope good calves.

“I came through alright, but I didn’t get the finals made until the last two weeks of the season.”

The rodeo season is cyclical, meaning it wraps around itself. The 2013 regular season lasted from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, but the world championship doesn’t take place until early December. Jarrett kicked off his campaign by winning a share of the title at the rodeo in Allen, Texas, last November. He was still trying to secure every dollar in this September to remain one of the top 15 on the money list to secure his place in the Nevada desert.

“The first couple of years when I was behind the eight ball coming down to the wire, it was a lot more stressful,” he said. “I kind of know what it takes to get there, and it’s a long road. You just have to bear down and get it done.”

That gives Jarrett a distinct advantage. He turned pro in time for the 2004 season, then won the coveted all-around gold buckle a year later by winning more money than any other cowboy competing in multiple events. As a businessman, he understands all the components that go into being a successful cowboy.

In all, he won six event titles in 2013, four of which were in tie-down roping; he added all-around championships in Bennington, Kan., and Great Falls, Mont. – two of a few rodeos in which he also competed in steer wrestling. When Jarrett won the world title eight seasons ago, he qualified for the NFR in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling. Will he ever try to take his bulldogging skills back to Vegas?

“I don’t own a horse, and a lot of the bigger rodeos have back-to-back runs, and that really hurts a bulldogger that doesn’t own a horse and that ropes calves as a priority,” Jarrett said. “You’re never sure how you’re going to fit with the horse and how it’s going to work in consecutive runs.”

Horsepower is vital in rodeo. Cowboys need a lot of help from their equine partners, especially if they hope to compete at an elite level. For years, he leaned on the assistance of Country, which he has ridden at numerous NFRs. This year, though, Country is on injured reserve and will miss the finale; Jarrett will lean on a borrowed horse named Hippie.

“I rode that horse quite a bit two years ago,” Jarrett said. “Hippie’s been around quite a bit. He’s a winner. He’s a top-shelf kind of a horse, and the NFR is kind of his set-up.”

Jarrett has found a pretty good setup along the way, which is why he works his annual schedule the way he does. Take, for instance, the week beginning Monday, Aug. 5, for example: Jarrett began the week in Strathmore, Alberta, where he won the tie-down roping title. He took Tuesday off, then shared the title in Missoula, Mont., on Wednesday.

Thursday featured Jarrett roping in two morning sessions – first in Grace, Idaho, then a few hours later in Logan, Utah; he failed to pocket a check, though. That afternoon, he caught a flight from Salt Lake City to Oklahoma City, and by Thursday evening, he was backing into the roping box in Ponca City, Okla. His busiest day of a busy week resulted in zero dollars earned, but he made up for it Friday, finishing in a tie for second place in Lawton, Okla. He wrapped up that stretch the next day in Lovington, N.M. In all, he earned more than $10,800.

It was a nice addition to his annual earnings, and every penny counted. In rodeo, dollars equal points, and the contestants in each event with the most money won at the conclusion of the NFR will be crowned world champions. Jarrett’s felt that before, and he strives to do so again. In mid-August, Shy-Anne joined him in the rig and helped him put the wraps to a solid 2013 campaign.

“We took a rig up to the Northwest, and she stays up there with me in Oregon and Washington for the last four or five weeks of the season,” he said. “She helps me in those situations in more ways than one, from taking care of the horses to giving me the support I need and helping me with my roping.”

It all comes together in nice package that is the Jarrett family business, and he’s hoping to take care business during those 10 December nights in the Nevada desert. That’s particularly important at the finals, where go-round winners will earn $18,630 each night.

“I take everything pretty serious, especially rodeo,” he said. “I do some things by the seat of my pants, but I know what my goal is every year, and I work and strive to accomplish it.” -30-


Finishing Strong (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Here we are in the last week of the rodeo season, and one of the most important weeks to those guys who are close to the bubble in the world standings.  Now, more than ever, it is important to finish strong.

Most great athletes want to be known as “finishers.” Whether it’s sports or life, it’s fairly easy to get started at anything. Somewhere along the way it becomes hard and a chore, and for one of a million reasons, they don’t finish. We need to instill in our kids, and ourselves, the importance of finishing strong.

There are so many times I’ll start a little project that should just take a few hours. The next thing I know I’ve uncovered something else that needs to be taken care of and it becomes a much bigger job. Before I realize it, it’s midnight, I’m overloaded and still not done. At this point I can call it good, go to bed and finish the next day; or I can buckle down and complete the project.

I will always choose to finish what I’ve started. I want to know myself as a strong finisher. Before you can be faithful in a lot, you have to be faithful in little things. If you finish the little things, there’s no doubt you can finish the big things. It’s easy, and exciting, to have a good idea and get it started. But once you realize it’s more work than fun, do you push on and see it through to the end?

In college I had a professor in the Ag Department that said most people get in the ranching business for the romance of it. I’ve never forgotten that and now when we are in the middle of a truly horrible chore on our ranch, I’ll say, “This is all about the romance now!” We get a big laugh out of it because it’s usually about the time when you’re ready to stomp, cuss, or tear something up.

This week my nephews, Stetson and Cliff, need to finish strong to secure a spot in the top fifteen. I’ve entered some rodeos so I can be there with them. Maybe the best I can offer is to let them ride my horse, or push their calf, but I want to be there to support them. A whole season, or career, has come down to one calf in many cases.

If you push yourself to finish stronger than you started—whether it’s cleaning the barn, working out, or any other job, you will learn a lot about yourself. You will discover you are capable of much more than you dreamed of.

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


Are you Recharging? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

You can only squeeze so much water out of a sponge before you have to soak it again. In this day and time most of us are busy and have ourselves overbooked. It’s important to stop and recharge from time to time. This became evident to me when I started speaking a lot. Now and then, rather than speak, I need to stop, listen, and recharge.

It’s very important when in a rodeo lifestyle. Back when I was going hard, I always looked forward to coming home to sleep in my own bed and spend time on the ranch. I called it relaxing, but I was actually “soaking up more water” and recharging. Afterwards, I could go back out on the road. Rodeo traveling is busy and stressful, not to mention the pressure and stress of competition. Some guys take vacations. Some would fly their families out and take a family vacation. Young single guys might go to a ball game or play golf. All of these activities offer a chance to recharge.

This is as important, if not more so, for your horse. I always give my horses a chance to recharge. I might ride them in the pasture or punch cows on them. I like to take the tie-down off, put a grazing bit on them and do something different. I feel it’s important to spend time riding your horse out of the stressful situation of competition.

This year I went to fifteen rodeos over six weeks versus trying to make fifty or sixty rodeos a year. It’s been very enjoyable to have my family with me and be able to take the time to stop and see things while we’ve been traveling. It’s fun to sightsee with my kids rather than race down the highway to the next rodeo and pass those things by.

Everyone needs a “recharge plan” to keep themselves, their family, and their horses from burning out. Take break, stop and smell the roses. Competition is fun, exciting and hopefully profitable. But it will never replace a relationship with your loved ones. You might be surprised what a little trail riding will do for your horse’s attitude.

Regardless of your occupation, everyone needs to recharge regularly. People are trying to get too much done in too little time. Recharging for you may mean taking a vacation. For me, it means going home, shutting the front gate and turning off my cell phone.

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


Teach Your Kids To Fish (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Stran Smith Down the Line

 Stran Smith Down the Line

The other day Jennifer posted a photo on our STS Ranch Wear Facebook of Stone holding a calf’s legs while we were branding. On the photo was this saying: “Don’t handicap your kids by making their life easy.” That one post was viewed over 100,000 times and shared 25,000 times.

I don’t think for a minute it’s easy to raise kids today. You can keep your kids safe enough for them to reach adulthood, but are we teaching them good life lessons? The saying goes, ‘Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

It’s far easier, and quicker, to do something for your kid than to let him do it himself. I’m guilty of this myself. It’s a real challenge to slow down and let your child do something himself. No, he won’t be as quick, or do it as well as you would. That’s not the point. If you don’t give him the opportunity to do a chore or complete a job or task he’s been given, you’re robbing him of the opportunity to be proud of himself.

With technology today, almost every kid you see is playing on a phone, ipad, or some other electronic device. It’s fun for them and can entertainment them for hours. Some of those hours would be time better spent learning some responsibility or spending time with family.

We want so much for our children that we tend to hand them nice things without teaching them the value or making them earn it. Do you think a 13-year old that’s riding a $5,000 to $10,000 horse really understands what a nice horse he has? Not likely.

I can’t even imagine trying to raise kids in the city. Folks in the country or on ranches have better opportunities to teach their kids how to earn the things they want.

I’ve mostly been home for the last couple of years and I’ve enjoyed spending that time with my family. Raising kids is challenging these days and you have to have a game plan. You can’t do anything successfully without one. It’s easier at home to let my boys do things for themselves. My dad was really good at letting me figure things out. It’s hard to believe I was driving a tractor when I was Stone’s age.

Since we’ve been rodeoing this summer I find it way too easy to ‘hand my kids a fish’ rather than letting them fish. The nature of rodeo is to hurry from one to the next and time is a luxury we don’t always have.

No matter where you live, or what you do for a living, today you have to compete for your children’s attention. This generation that’s raising kids now has a big challenge. We have to teach them the value of a dollar. We have to teach them how to work for what they want. We have to let them learn how to do things, and sometimes fail, rather than do it for them.

As an adult, your child will be more likely to thank you for teaching the value of hard work than for letting him lay in front of the television.

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



Opportunities (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Lately, a popular topic when talking with my nephews is opportunities and what to do with them. Seizing and not missing opportunities has always been important to me and has made a difference in my roping. My nephews have learned to take advantage of opportunities presented to them and have had the opportunity to learn how to win and to practice how to win. It’s a common attitude our family shares.

Not missing an opportunity isn’t always easy. My boys have recently shown an interest in roping the Smarty mechanical dummy. I’m pretty tickled about this and want to make it as fun for them as I can.

The other day I had told the boys we would rope the Smarty that evening. Early in the day I discovered a place where my bull and the neighbor’s bull fought and tore the fence down. Ordinarily it’s not the end of the world, but this wasn’t just any old pasture. This was the one, out of six or seven, where our registered cows and bull are. This bull was very expensive because even though these cows are artificially inseminated, they don’t all take and he ensures we will have top quality calves. I couldn’t chance having my neighbor’s bull on these registered cows.

It would have been easy to tell my boys that we just couldn’t rope that night because I had to fix fence. It’s not life or death for them and they would have been fine with it. But, I would have missed the opportunity, as their dad, of having fun roping with them. I think it’s my job as their dad to make things enjoyable.

So, when I found the fence down, I thought, “No, not today. I’m not missing out on tonight with my kids.” So I hustled, got the fence fixed and we still got to rope and have a good time.

One of the things I’ve been talking about with my nephews is getting the most out of every opportunity. That has always been one of my strengths. When things don’t go your way, there’s an opportunity to learn, change or grow. The hard part is seeing those circumstances as the opportunity it is.

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


Reach Out! (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

In the busy world of today, it’s easy to find yourself with your head down and living as fast as you can. Though our hectic lives and schedules are self-designed, I believe it’s important to be still and quiet at times. God communicates with us in many ways and I don’t want to miss out on that.

When I was younger I felt like God needed me to accomplish his mission. I thought I needed to give God the glory and public recognition first and foremost whenever I won. With maturity I’ve realized that while it’s never bad to give God the glory, I now know He will accomplish his mission with or without me. If I’m too busy, or not attentive enough to recognize when He needs me, He will find someone else.

I always thought I was the blessing to God by doing these things and helping people. In reality I was receiving the blessing.

Several years ago, I was in an airport and received a phone call, from a stranger, asking me to call a young man that had been in an accident. This young, healthy, 18-year-old stopped at an accident to help. While doing so, a car slid into him and knocked him over a 20’ bridge.

At first they thought he wouldn’t live. After surviving, they told him he probably wouldn’t walk again because one of his legs was nearly ruined. He definitely would not be able to rope again. This was his reward for being a good Samaritan and he was going through a depression. They told me he was a big fan of mine and asked if I could I take a minute or two to give him a call.

As soon as we hung up, I called him and we talked for ten or fifteen minutes. I prayed for him and told him as soon as he was able to rope he could come to one of my schools on me. He’d been told he may not walk again and I’m telling him to come to my school.

I was told that conversation turned everything around for him. He’s now going to college. I’ve had him at a school and got to visit with him in Vegas. He’s a great example to people of not losing hope.

I’m certain I got more out of it than he did. I was presented with an opportunity to reach out to someone in need. If I had been too busy, it would have been easy to send him a text telling him I was praying for him. However, I doubt it would have had the same affect. TRUST ME. I have missed more opportunities than I have taken advantage of, but this time by being a blessing, I received the greatest blessing myself.

If we’re willing, God will use you. If not, he’ll find someone else who is. I, myself, don’t want to miss a chance to be a blessing and receive His blessings.

Till next, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line.


Attitude (Stran Smith, Down the Line)

The other day I was listening to ESPN radio and they were talking about high profile athletes and the effect they have on their teams. As the year progresses, some teams seem to gel while others seem to disintegrate. This appears to directly relate to the attitude of the stars of the teams. If the star, or stars, are unselfish and have a good attitude, their team performed much better than those with stars who are self-centered with bad attitudes.

Attitude is a major factor in anything you do. Attitude tops talent any day of the week when it comes to performing in sports.

It’s been a long time, but I can recall being in the practice pen and being mad about something. Then every little thing that goes wrong seems like a bigger deal than it really is. It’s easy to get upset at your horse, or because your calf kicks, or when the gate doesn’t open when you nod.

The practice pen is about training. Not only about roping, position, timing and all the physical things, but you’re also training how to mentally handle what you’re doing. I promise if you rodeo for a living you will come up against one million obstacles. Gatemen, security, judges, traffic, break downs, the list goes on and on. So if you are having a hard time with your attitude in the controlled environment of your practice pen, then you are in big trouble.

If you anger easily, you’re probably going to have a bad attitude. This will affect every aspect of your life and you need to figure out why this happens and get a handle on it. I’m not saying you can’t have a professional career if you ignore it, but you will be the most miserable person there is. If you have a bad attitude, I have some bad news for you. You will be miserable no matter what you do.

Parents, if your kids have poor attitudes in the roping pen, find some chores for them. Chances are they are taking it for granted and not appreciating what they have. Roping has always been a blessing and any time I started looking at it like it was a job or doing it out of duty, I reminded myself I was the luckiest person in the world for getting to rope. There have been several times in my life where roping was taken away from me due to my health. Thinking I might never get to rope again made me very appreciative.

Remember, you are not limited by your level of talent. Attitude will always outperform talent. If you’re lacking a good attitude, take a few minutes and take stock of what you have to be grateful for. Counting your blessings is always a great exercise. Done often enough, you’ll be surprised how your attitude will change.

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



Don’t Miss an Opportunity (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Exciting things are happening for us this year. STS Ranch Wear has taken off in a big way and I’ve been traveling for promotions and meetings while still going to some rodeos. Currently, I’m on the road for one of those meetings. When this trip first came up, I was wondering if it would be a worthwhile because of the time away from home and things I would miss. Plus, I knew I would be traveling extensively for the next six weeks.

I prayed about it and just had a feeling about it. Though this wasn’t necessarily the biggest account we might ever have, I felt I needed to be here. It’s been a good reminder to never underestimate the value of a relationship. This visit will ultimately lead to an opportunity for STS that I could not have imagined.

Maybe just as important as that great business opportunity, was the other meeting I had today. I was doing a radio interview and scheduled to sign autographs immediately after. During the interview, I noticed a young boy, about eight years old, waiting patiently for me. When the interview was over, I went over and hugged him and asked if he wanted an autograph.

He said, “Yes sir, that would be great!” I took him to the front of the line and he proceeded to tell me what a big fan he was. Then he said, “I’m a huge fan, but not nearly as big as my granddad was.” I asked him what his granddad’s name was and wrote out an autograph for him as well. I asked if he would give that to his granddad and he answered, “You bet, I’ll stop by on my way home and lay it on his grave. That will make him really happy.”

Now, whether I was meant to be there for business or to make the day of an eight-year-old boy, I don’t know for sure. But I do know we shouldn’t be quick to pass on opportunities. When you seize those opportunities I think it’s important to be present and aware. It may not always be about what benefits you. Sometimes you’re the one who can help and will be the giver in the relationship.

But, if you’re really fortunate, like I was today, you’ll get to do both.

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