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.


Leaving Your Comfort Zone (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

We all have times in our life when we feel pulled or compelled to do something, but most of us wait for the opportunity to drop in our lap. I think there comes a time when we shouldn’t wait and should take steps to make it happen or “kick the door” in.

There is a fine line between someone who wants to live a dream and someone who has worked and paid the price to live that dream. If you have paid the price and put yourself in a position to succeed, you might get to the threshold and find the door shut. Are you going to walk away, or kick the door in and take what is yours?

I’m not talking about someone who has a wish, or daydream. If I wanted to, I could daydream about winning the lottery and have fun doing it. The chance of it becoming a reality is not very good because I don’t buy lottery tickets.

You might be that guy who has worked hard at his roping. You’ve put in more hours than your competitors but you just don’t have the horsepower. Are you going to stop there or are you going to commit to the next step up and buy a better horse? Or are you the one who has earned a promotion, but it just doesn’t ever seem to materialize? It may be time to take the steps necessary to try and make it happen.

Life can be bigger, better and more than you’ve dreamed of.  Scary as it may seem, you may need to stretch yourself and leave your comfort zone. Stretching yourself by being in uncomfortable situations is one of the best ways to grow.

Don’t settle for being complacent with what drops in your lap. Leave your comfort zone occasionally and see where it takes you.


Challenge Yourself (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

We’re in Vegas for the National Finals and it’s a very different year for me. Because of this article, National Roper’s Supply asked me to give a daily motivational talk each morning at their trade show at the MGM. I agreed and then realized what a huge undertaking I had signed up for.  Now, I’m used to speaking and can do a reasonable job when talking to my students or when making brief comments to a crowd.

What I’m not used to doing is speaking for fifteen to thirty minutes while delivering a message that I’m passionate about.  I spent some time re-reading articles and doing research until I came up with a theme with daily topics that relate to it.  This theme is, “Whatever you do regularly will determine what you’ll have eventually.”

My first topic was “Power of the Tongue,” meaning whatever you speak or talk about, whether it’s positive or negative, will have an effect on your daily life.  If you regularly speak positively you will find yourself creating better habits and generally happier.

Some of my other topics include relationships, surrounding yourself with the right people, having balance in your life, and broadening your mind.  NRS has been filming this and will eventually make it available on You Tube for everyone to watch.

It’s ironic because I was dreading this because it was outside of my comfort zone.  But once I started preparing and making notes, I really started having a good time. It’s easy to turn down an opportunity or back away from something that intimidates us, but after this, I would encourage you to bite the bullet and relish the experience and what you can learn from it.  Trying something new will only add to your personal resume of life experiences.

To do something new and different, you have to decide to decide.  It’s easy for me because I can remember a specific time when I decided to get healthy.  I decided to eat right, sleep more, and work out. I focused on being healthy in every area of my physical well-being.  I started to accumulate and soak up information from trainers, doctors, or articles I read. Then I applied that information and made it my own.

I want to thank NRS for giving me the opportunity to not only motivate people, but also to expand my horizons and have a chance to learn something new.

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



Getting Off Your Horse (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This month, we are talking about the dismount during a calf roping run. Though I didn’t start roping competitively until I was sixteen, I grew up riding and roping on our ranch. Everyone in the family was involved when it came to working cattle: my brother and sisters, my dad, Granddad and me.

Now and then, I was allowed to ride one of the good horses and when I was about ten or twelve I came up with a game of sorts to entertain myself. I would be in a big pasture, where I wouldn’t get caught, get my horse into a good lope, and then get off on the right side while he was running. Soon, this wasn’t quite exciting enough. One horse I rode would jump small mesquite bushes. So we would be loping along pretty fast and while he was in mid-air, jumping the bush, I would get off and run beside him. He would stop and I would get back on and do it again. I had no idea what I was doing. I was just a kid having fun.

Consequently, getting off my calf horse has always been very easy for me. Some kids roped the dummy, or tied a lot and that would be their specialty when they got older. My specialty was getting off because I had been doing it for years and it is second nature for me. When I started roping calves, I could get off while my horse was running full speed. I’ve had to work at not getting off too soon.

For a smooth dismount, it’s important for your horse’s performance that you have good balance. If you lean out too wide or to the side, you can throw his balance off where he has to brace himself. This can cause him to step to the left to compensate for your weight. For the same reasons, you don’t want to get off too far behind or to the front. It’s a finesse move that involves good timing and balance.

You need to be in time with your horse. Your right knee is bent and your left leg needs to swipe over the cantle. Keep your right foot straight, pointing towards the calf. Usually when your body is in the stirrup, your foot turns. It takes some effort to keep it straight and out of your horse’s stomach and shoulder.

As you dismount, it’s important to get off using the saddle horn and not the bridle reins. This is one of the most common errors made by calf ropers. Many people use the reins for balance without realizing it. Horse trainers spend a lot of time making horses nice and broke and very sensitive. This is quickly undone when the reins end up supporting body weight. The pressure that should be put on bridle reins can be measured in ounces but using them for balance involves hundreds of ounces of pressure. Consequently, not only is it bad for your horse and his confidence, it will end up costing you time and money. When you pull his front end off the ground, even unintentionally, it throws everything out of whack.

If you’re going to Las Vegas this year for the NFR, I will be at the NRS Trade Show at the MGM each morning at 9:30 a.m. I invite you all to come and would love for you to send me some topics you would like me to talk about. Please email them to me at strant@aol.com.


Athletic Position (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Last month, we talked about horse position when roping. This month, I want to touch on something that is mostly overlooked in our sport and that’s athletic position.   Athletic position is having your weight distributed over the balls of your feet, knees slightly bent, back straight and head up. In any athletic sport where you have to move fast, this is the position you start from. College and professional athletes all know this.

If while you were walking down the sidewalk and a car suddenly veered towards you, you would naturally “break down” into this position to move quickly. In our sport there are lots of guys who are naturally athletic, and then there are lots who are not. In a sport where every hundredth of a second counts, it’s important to maximize your chances.

In the gym, I work out on a Bosu ball that looks like half a ball. You can stand on either side and it’s wonderful for gaining balance. I work on my arms, shoulders and squats all on the Bosu for the purpose of agility and balance.

So many people don’t realize the importance of athleticism when roping calves. From the time you get off your horse and until you throw your hands up, you need your weight distributed over the balls of your feet and to be in an athletic position. We quickly dismount and run as fast as possible on uneven ground. There’s a lot of potential for injury if you’re not physically prepared for it.

The best athletes in the world, professional football and basketball players, routinely work on foot drills and other exercises for balance and coordination to increase their performance by even a mere two or three percent. If it could increase your performance as much as forty percent, would you not do this?

Guys who are naturally athletic may not have to work at it. But I believe anyone can improve their performance if they do. You can find these exercises on the internet. Footwork is very under estimated and overlooked in our sport. If your footwork is right, your position will be right. You will make far less mistakes and your consistency will shoot through the roof. Next month, we’ll talk about position and the dismount.

This year, I’ve been invited to give a motivational speech at the NRS trade show at the MGM each morning at 9:30 a.m. I invite you all to come if you are going to be in Las Vegas during the finals. I would love for you all to send me some topics you would like me to talk about. Please email them to me at strant@aol.com.

Our STS Ranch Wear will debut during the NFR and we’re very excited. The feedback has been very positive and overwhelming. I absolutely love the products. STS will have a booth at the NRS trade show at the MGM. You will also be able to find STS Ranch Wear at Archundi & Company at the Convention Center.

I’m working on a plan for my 2013 articles and need some ideas. Please email me at strant@aol.com with ideas and topics you would like to read about. Until next time, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line.


It’s All About Position (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

There are very few places or times where “position” is not a major factor. This is true on many levels in everything from your position in life, your spiritual position, and in roping calves.

Today we’re talking about roping position. I’ll always take a guy that may not be as fast or have as much ability with good position over a guy that’s blistering fast with bad position. Most of the mistakes made when roping are due to being out of position.

There are several common positions for throwing your rope when calf roping. As when driving, where a steering wheel has a 10:00 and 2:00, I’ll use the same references for the position of the calf when roping. Most ropers will usually throw when the calf is in one of these positions: 1) 11:00, 2) 12:00, 3) 1:00.

Often this will be determined by a roper’s size and strength. Personally, my preferred position is 11:00. For a younger or smaller roper, who may not be tall enough to see over their horses’ head, they will be more comfortable with a 1:00 position. Many things can dictate your position, your left hand, your elbow, your wrist, or how you hold your rope.

If you’re not sure of your optimum position, work at catching the dummy from 10:30 to 2:00 positions. Adjust your swing and the plane of your rope in order to catch it from all positions. From there, figure out which position best fits your style and swing, and gives you the highest percentage for catching.

Once you find the position that makes you most consistent, ride to that position every time. For your catching percentage to go up, you need to be in the same position every time.

All aspects of calf roping relate to position. Next month we’ll talk about positioning yourself to get off and positioning yourself when tying.

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


Practicing vs. Roping (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I love to rope, and when I just rope, it’s a lot of fun. To me, that’s making three to six runs on a couple of horses. Flank and tie some, but not enough to get sore. Practicing is something totally different.

Practice needs to be strategically planned to be effective. You need to be smart enough to know what you need to practice on. Professional athletes focus on overcoming their weaknesses. If you’re not sure of your weaknesses, find someone knowledgeable that can help you pinpoint those areas.

Practice is not necessarily fun, but I’ve made myself love it. When I walk into my arena to practice, I visualize that I’m punching a time clock. To feel like I’ve really practiced, I want to wear out a couple of ropes and a pigging string. I have calluses on my hands from tying and if I practice to my standards, I’ll be sore for a few days.

To practice like that, it takes a lot of horses and calves. Don’t go run twenty or thirty head of calves on your horse. That’s not practice and you’ll trash your horse.

If you have trouble catching, get a breakaway and learn to catch like that. You can do a lot of groundwork without a horse, though it does take a lot of calves. Making runs is fun, but look at like running a business. Keep your strengths sharp, but focus on your weaknesses and work at that. Be strategic and have a thought out plan for your practice.

Congratulations to Cory Solomon for winning Calgary and $100,000. He’s a great young man who ropes well and has a bright future ahead of him.

Until next time, God bless, and I’ll see you down the line. If there’s something you would like me to write about, please send me an email at strant@aol.com.