Your Chance to be Great (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Oftentimes, when I’m driving down the road and see horses standing in the pasture, I’ll wonder if they are missing out on the chance to be great. I’m certain there are many horses that are born to be great and gone to waste because they were never trained. Those horses never had a say and thankfully that’s not the case with people.

As a human, you have the ultimate say in your success. There are many people who have been told, especially during their formative years, that they will never succeed. Their self-image has become what someone else has told them. They become the label they have been given: loser, choker, dummy or whatever. It’s insecure bullies who usually hand out these labels.  You can overcome this and choose not to let others claim your destiny. You are the only one who is control of your destiny.

Every day, I see how impressionable my boys are and easily they are molded. Stone, my oldest, is very tenderhearted and a pleaser. With the right words and encouragement he will try and do anything for me. My youngest is a little more like me. Tell him that he can’t do something and he will growl at you while he’s showing you that he can do it. These two boys have the same genetics, live in the same environment and yet they are totally different and will have to be encouraged differently. I never want to be a stumbling block for them, either from my success, my expectations or lack of encouragement. I take everything I say and do around them very seriously.

For all my efforts, they are the ones who will determine how successful they are in life. If they decide to rope, I can’t throw the rope for them. If they want to be President of the United States, I’m behind them but can’t do anything to help them.

I encourage you to be successful and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t let someone quench your dreams – go chase those dreams down.

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


It is What it Is (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Do you see yourself as a grasshopper? In the Bible, Numbers 13:33, Moses had sent twelve spies into the Promised Land to look at it. Two of them came back and said, “That’s our land.” The other ten said, “We were as grasshoppers in their sight.” My question is: how do you see yourself?

Yesterday I was in Los Angeles waiting to catch a flight. I started into a Denny’s to eat breakfast when a bum rode up to me on his bicycle and asked me for money. I told him I didn’t have any cash but invited him to eat breakfast with me. During breakfast I learned that Curtis was 50 years old and had been out of prison for four years. He was locked up for 25 years after being convicted of murder. Curtis had been a gang leader, a drug dealer, and had killed many people.

I asked about his family and he said he had a few kids, a mother, and grandmother scattered in different states. I told him, “You must have someone in your family who has spent a lot of time praying for you.” He said he did and that he believes in God. One of his sons followed in his footsteps in the gang life and was killed. Curtis had a slang quote that pretty much summed things up for him: “It is what it is.” During our meal Curtis became polite, quiet spoken, and it was obvious that he was very intelligent.

After we parted company, I began to wonder if Curtis knew that what he was doing would determine what he would eventually have or be. It also made me look at my life and think about how I view myself. Because that’s where it really starts – with your self-image. If I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, then I need to change my environment.

Do I see myself as a guy that comes through in the short round or do I see myself as someone who can’t possibly tie a calf in seven seconds when needed? No, I view myself as the guy that can get the job done, whatever that job may be.
How I see myself in everyday life is just as or more important. How well do I handle things? Do I snap at people? Am I quick to be ill, to judge, or to be mad about little things? If I see that, then I need to change that picture, not just change the way I think about it.

It’s like looking in the mirror and then deciding to get in shape. If you change your diet and work out, eventually your image in the mirror will change. Making change physically or spiritually is always possible. It just takes work, time, and the knowledge that it won’t happen overnight.


Cactus Ropes Announces Organizational Change

Pleasanton, TX  (April 19, 2010)— We are pleased to announce the promotion of Mike Piland to Executive Vice President of Corporate Planning and Industry Relations for Cactus Ropes, Inc.  Mike, an important industry leader with deep longevity at Cactus Ropes, will focus his experience and leadership skills to direct Cactus Ropes’ sponsorships as well as cultivating distribution channels worldwide.

In addition, Barry Berg has accepted the position of General Manager / Vice President of Operations and will continue to lead the very successful manufacturing operations at Cactus Ropes.

We are pleased, as well, to announce the arrival of Ken Anderson as Director of Finance for Cactus Ropes.  Ken brings to us a strong background in accounting and consumer products.  In his prior position, Ken was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of a leading manufacturer in the food processing industry.

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, TX produces top-quality ropes used by cowboys and cowgirls in both rodeo competition and practice arenas. These ropes are endorsed by the top Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association athletes participating in national rodeo events.


Twenty Feet at a Time (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I’m less than a week off my win at Houston and I know lots of people are thinking, “Man, you won $50,000 in one run at Houston.” Well, yes and no. In reality you have to run six calves to get to that point. Then, at the end, four guys rope for first place.

In a progressive set-up like that, my philosophy is to find out what you have to do to keep advancing and stay alive, and then do that. Every stage has a sudden death where if you don’t qualify in the top four, you don’t advance. It’s very action-packed with instant results, compared to rodeos with first rounds that can last two or three weeks.

Though roping six calves sounds like a lot to get to the winner’s circle, really you just rope one calf at a time. I made the comment the other day that rodeoing is a marathon that is literally run 20 feet at a time. You may run 20 feet today and then it could be a week before you run the next 20 feet.

Regardless, I want to be at the very top of my game for those 20 feet. This year I’ll run between 150 and 200 calves and each calf represents 20 feet. I want to be all in, all there; whether it’s for $500 or $50,000. My horse doesn’t know the difference and I expect him to give his all every time. Why would I expect any less of myself?

Ironically, before Houston I had the least amount of money won at this time of year than I ever have. Now after Houston, I have the most money I’ve won at this time of year. From the beginning of the year, somehow, I just knew it was going to happen.

I was riding around the arena before the rodeo started and thought, “Today could be a day I’ll never forget.” So I thought I should take it all in and enjoy it, which I did. I spent some time praying. Honestly, I don’t pray to win but pray for the opportunity to win. I ask the Lord for a chance and when that’s presented to me I do all I can to make the best of it.

I would like to win all the rodeos I go to, but sometimes my best is not quite good enough and I accept that. I’m not satisfied, but I accept it. I know God works in all things, and I’ve been at the very top as well as at the very bottom where the outlook is bleak. However, it plays out that I want to be the same guy whether I’m winning or not. I’ll be prepared and give it my best shot, but my life is complete and I’m content; though I’ll always do everything possible to run the best 20 feet I can.

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


New Relentless Rope: C4

PLEASANTON, TEXAS (March 22, 2010) – Team Ropers everywhere, get ready to be rocked once again by the next explosive release in Trevor Brazile’s Relentless line from Cactus Ropes!

Hitting the rope racks May 1st, 2010, the C4 head and heel ropes are the next addition to the Relentless arsenal.

Constructed of four strands of 100% pure nylon, the C4 was built to complement the poly/nylon blended Xplosion and provide ropers with an ultra-consistent, snappy, full-bodied rope with tons of snap-back* in hot weather. The C4 is slightly smaller in diameter than the Xplosion, yet allows the roper to find tip weight with ease.

Trevor needed a rope to fit in his rope bag alongside the Xplosion. Having a C4 and an Xplosion with you at all times guarantees you a perfect-feeling rope no matter the weather conditions.

Although it is still in its testing stage, the C4 has already earned a few prestigious accolades in what will certainly be a long list of achievements. Coleman Proctor and Brady Minor both racked up strong finishes at the George Strait Team Roping Championship in Boerne, Texas recently with the new C4. Coleman won the event with his partner and fellow Cactus Ropes endorsee, Jake Long. Using the extra soft C4 head rope, he collected $79,815 cash, a new truck, trailer, saddle, and buckle.

Brady Minor, using the hard medium C4 heel rope, placed second to win $31,926. Brady’s partner and brother, Riley Minor, used an extra soft Xplosion. Brady and Riley were edged out of first place by a mere one-tenth of a second.

To find out more about the C4 and the entire Relentless line by Cactus, check out

*Snap-Back: the physical trait of nylon string allows it to stretch and then return back to a natural resting state.


The Four-Minute Mile (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

In 1954, Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. Prior to that, scientists had stated that it was physically impossible to run a mile any faster. Once broken, in less than a year’s time a number of people ran it faster than four minutes.

For years, the team roping record was 3.5 seconds. It had been tied several times but remained unbroken until the 2009 NFR. Then, in the 9th round, JoJo Lemond and Randon Adams broke the record with a scalding 3.4-second run. They were able to hang on to the world record title for only two runs before Chad Masters and Jake Corkill came out and were 3.3.

When we knock down our own barriers or stretch our limitations, we enable others to break barriers of their own. I have learned that when I don’t reach my potential, there are more people affected than just me. It affects not only my friends and family, but can also affect people I may never meet.

In the last couple of months, we’ve talked about the importance of setting goals. There are some more steps in the process. First and foremost, you must have a plan. There’s an old saying, “If you shoot at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” The second step is that your plan starts with one small step followed by another, then another, and another. Third, use what you have right where you are. It’s easy to find excuses for why you are unable to reach your goals. For many people, it’s easier to find excuses than it is to take the small steps.

Personally I am doing all I can to reach my full potential in hopes that someone else can use my success to expand their horizons. I believe we all have an obligation in this life to do what we’re called to do and do it the best we can. I want to be the best I can be in all facets of my life. One of my most important jobs is being a good dad. I know most of what my sons pick up from me is caught, rather than taught. It’s not about doing, it’s about being. I can teach my sons what I know, but they will catch who I am.

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


Resolutions (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Recently, I heard the comment that the goals we set for the New Year are called “resolutions” because we intend to break them. Lately I’ve been talking about the importance of setting goals. We’ve started a new year, and by now you’ve been knocked off the course of your goals a time or two and had a chance to throw your sucker in the dirt.

Now the real test starts, to see if you have what it takes to get back on the path and stay the course. Don’t let one mistake or one less-than-perfect performance trash and tarnish the big picture. Keep your confidence high.

It’s easy to have confidence if you’re someone like Brett Favre or Kobe Bryant. But the fact is, we don’t all have that kind of capability. What’s really important is how you view yourself. Your vision and the way you view yourself is exactly what you will become. You must have confidence and be able to visualize yourself at the end of your goal.

There is a Biblical principle that I use to reinforce my confidence. This principle is: You have to speak it for it to be. Stand up in front of a mirror and look at yourself. As crazy and as easy as it seems, say something like, “I’m a winner going somewhere to win.” Quote your goals to yourself.

What works for me personally is that my faith and confidence are not in me or in my rope. Ultimately, my rope is not my provider. God is my provider, and my faith and hope are in Him. What I say is: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I’m not standing on what I can do; I’m standing on the promises of God, which state that I can do all things through Christ. If Christ is for me, then who can be against me?”

When you speak your goals in front of a mirror, something key happens. Not only are you looking at yourself, but you also hear yourself. The strongest words you’ll ever hear are the words you speak specifically about yourself.

Now you have framed yourself up for success. Let’s walk this out.

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


Goals vs. Wishes (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This is the time of year I usually talk about the importance of setting goals. In 2008 my goals were: 1) To win a world championship; 2) To win the NFR average; 3) To win the Texas Circuit. For the first time in my career I was able to check off all the goals I had set for the year.

My goal, for so long, was to win a world championship and I had never thought past that. I didn’t have another goal after winning a gold buckle. I had never thought about winning two gold buckles.  Achieving those goals was such an event for me and so emotional that it took a toll on me in 2009. I didn’t realize how much until we were half way through the year and I wasn’t in the top 50. Then I started bearing down and winning and ended up getting hurt which all but killed my chances of making the finals.

I always take time between seasons to think about my goals. This year I’m at Dodd’s, my trainer, in Florida in the ultimate training camp. We get up at 5 a.m. and go until midnight or later. We’re either training, eating or talking about strategy and goals. It is amazing how heightened your mental state becomes when you break yourself down physically.

In this environment my goal setting has reached a new level. My goals are very specific and I have a set of both short and long-term goals. I have three pages or sets of goals: professional goals, personal goals for me and my family and spiritual goals. I have a fourth page that is a summary of these, which contains my top six to ten goals.

When setting goals it’s important to be strategic and I always take time to think about what I want to happen this year, in the next ten years and how I’m going to get there. Goals need to be realistic and be something you’re willing to work for. Goals are much different than a wish or dream. Normally we make them too big or too small or don’t write them down. You have to have a road map of how you’re going to get there.

For every goal I make, I run it through the grinder and ask myself if I’m willing to do what it takes and make the necessary sacrifices to reach those goals.

Any goal without time spent, is a wish – not a goal. There’s a lot of difference between a wish and a goal. You can dream big, but know that the sacrifice will have to be just as big to reach it.

On a different note I’ve been given an opportunity to keep people up to date with what I’m doing and be able to share my training routines, etc. Now in the Applications section of iTunes there is a Stran Smith app available for the iPhone for $2.99. I’m pretty excited about it and hope you enjoy it.

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


No Substitute for Time Spent (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Recently I was given a book titled Outliers, The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I have always believed and said that there’s no substitute for time spent and this book reinforces that for me. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a school teacher, calf roper or rocket scientist. If you want to be the best there’s no substitute for time spent. The person who spends the most time at something is the best.

When you hear that someone has “potential,” while a compliment, it also means they haven’t accomplished anything yet. According to the Outliers, it takes approximately 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. There’s about 2,000 hours in a year of 40-hour weeks, so depending on how hard you work and how much time you devote to something, it can take five to ten years to become an expert.

These statistics made me reflect on my career. I’ve always felt a little behind because I didn’t start roping until I was sixteen. Though I’ve never doubted my ability, I also never felt like I was as good as I wanted to be. Therefore, I practiced all the time and couldn’t practice enough. I look back now and didn’t realize what I was doing, but it was what I needed to do.

I’ve always said that you get out of it what you put into it and that’s proven. The person who spends the most quality practice at something will be the best. In the book they talk about musicians and athletes and the difference between those who went on to become teachers versus the elite who became the very best. The elite practiced more and spent more time doing it.

I can’t think about roping and longevity without thinking of Allen Bach. He’s worked hard, continued to change with the times and is still a driving force. He didn’t rest on his laurels and at 50-something he’s still working at it and will continue to until he quits. It’s no accident that Trevor dominates the All Around. He’s spent more time at it – that’s no secret. Hanging in my office is my quote: “Practice is not what you do when you get good – Practice is what you do to get good.”

Today while I was practicing, the father of one of my students was there and afterwards he asked, “Do you always practice this hard?” Ironically, it wasn’t really that tough of a day for me. I don’t practice to get a warm and fuzzy feeling, or out of anger or to prove anything. I constantly challenge myself to be the very best I can be.

If you want to be the best – do it more than anyone else. Period.

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


These are my People (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

From time to time I see young people do or say things to cause me to wonder about future of our country. I just got home from the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis where I spoke to approximately 600 state delegates. Overall there were probably 57,000 kids in attendance. Meeting and speaking with these kids was so refreshing. Most of these kids are courteous and goal oriented. They know what they want and how to go about getting it. My hat is off to their parents for involving them in the FFA and also to the FFA for the positive impact they have on these young people.

I left there very refreshed and proud because these are my people. They are kids that are from farms and ranches, who have the same morals and principles that this country was founded on. Spending time with them has allowed me to breath a sigh of relief.

I missed making the National Finals by about $3,000 and this is how it played out. When the doctor released me I had three weeks left in the season to qualify for the finals. My first rodeo back was the tour finale in Puyallup, Washington where I won $17,000. I won El Paso, placed at Albuquerque and at the finale at Omaha. It all came down the Heartland Circuit Finals in Waco where I needed to win about $5,000. There I drew a couple of calves that weren’t very good and only won $600.

Though I’m not satisfied with the way this year turned out, it was still the most fun year of my career. Most people don’t realize that after you win the world the first time, you want to win the second title just as bad, if not worse. For me not to make the finals this year is harder to swallow than losing the world championship by $1,000. But in all honesty during this year there have been seven or eight times where I said, “That was the most freakish thing to ever happen to me.” So it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sure I’m disappointed, but I’m not going to let it affect me and ultimately my family. I’ve got two little fellows on that bus that don’t know the difference between a gold buckle and a goat roping title. But they would know and feel the difference if I didn’t take this in stride and handle it well. Poor behavior on my part would affect my family and everyone I come in contact with.

As I rode out of the arena at Waco, I let that feeling of disappointment motivate me. In 2010 I’ll come back with a vengeance. I spent three hours in the gym today; I have fifteen head of calves and twenty more coming. Now I have something to prove to myself.

Till next time God Bless.