Approaching the Finals (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This coming weekend is the San Angelo Roping Fiesta and for the first time I’m roping in the match roping. Cody Ohl and I will match on twelve calves for a payout of $15,000. Though I’ve been invited in the past I didn’t want to take a chance on injuring my horse or myself before the national finals. Now that I’m in good shape physically I’m really excited about it. I’ve backed off of my workout routine for the last week so I could be fresh without the risk of having any muscles fatigued and vulnerable to injuries.

Altogether I’ll have to rope fifteen – three in the roping and twelve in the match. Most of you will admit that you rope that in one day of practicing. Roping that many calves to the very best of your ability is tough physically and mentally and takes a lot of energy. When I was younger I would rope 40 or 50 and didn’t get sore or know I was supposed to. As little as a few years ago if I roped 25 I would be so sore I couldn’t get out of bed. Now, after a year of disciplined diet and exercise I feel like I can rope as many as I want and that’s exciting.

Match ropings can be intimidating but at the end of the day it’s still just calf roping. Whether it’s a match roping, a jackpot or the NFR it’s still calf roping. In preparation I’ve focused on my horse scoring good and being solid on the ground. That’s exactly how I get ready for the finals except for throwing faster.

We just got through with the Heartland Finals in Waco, Texas. To qualify you had to go to 30 small rodeos. If you say “30 rodeos” real fast it doesn’t sound like much but these were rodeos were hard to get to. There were quite a few last fall and winter that I didn’t make but I decided to try and qualify because the finals paid well and the money counted in the world standings. About half way through the season I was doubtful I could make them all. Then three-fourths into the season I realized I couldn’t miss any more.

Making those final rodeos required some crazy traveling. Three or four times I drove all night with little time to spare and altogether probably drove an extra 25,000 miles. Without qualifying for the finals this was not profitable because some only paid $1,100 for first. At the finals three groups of ten roped and the top four in each group advanced. It was elimination style until it got down to four ropers on one head. Thankfully I won the finals and won over $12,000 in all.

After eighteen months in development, Barry Berg, Production Manager at Cactus Ropes, and I are close to releasing my new four-strand calf rope, the 4 “Stran.” When the nylon four-strands came out it took team roping to a whole new level. I don’t know if we’ll see the same reaction in calf roping, but the rope is unbelievably smooth. Spun from 100% texturized poly at Cactus, these ropes are tough. After practicing all day I throw my rope down on the tack room floor and the next day it’s ready to go and feels the same. Our goal is to have them in stores before the national finals and I’m excited.

If you have any questions or anything you’d like me to write about, email me at strant@aol.com. God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.