March 2015 (Down The Line, Stran Smith)

Knowing When to Quit

I’ve always believed it’s not how you start, but how you finish. This is true in everything in my life, and it isn’t any different with my horses. I watch people send so many mixed signals to their horses they don’t know whether to jump or lay down. Mostly because the rider really doesn’t know what he wants them to do. My granddad used to have a saying “job him and jerk him”. I didn’t really understand the depth of this statement until I was older. So for those of you who don’t get it, I will take the liberty to try and explain what I think my granddad was trying to say. “Hey fruit loop, you’re sending mixed signals to your horse!”

Some of you may or may not know but there is a young man from Brazil who has been living with me for about a year. His name is Marcos Costa. If you are a fan of rodeo and you don’t know about him, you will very soon! He will definitely be making a name for himself in calf roping this season. What sets him apart from other ropers out there is he is one of the best horseman I have ever been around. He has the ability to do things with horses that I have never seen before. What impresses me most about his horsemanship is his ability to know when to quit. Here’s a quick story to show you what I’m talking about. Marcos was riding a young horse warming him up getting ready to rope. He asked the horse to stop about half speed and the horse stopped half-heartedly on his front end and popped up. Marcos brought him around and asked him to stop again, this time with a little more seriousness. The horse dropped in it like a reiner. At this point Marcos got off, loosened the cinch, and took the skid boots off. He looked at me and said “That’s good for today.” Now there were about 12 people at the house that day wanting to see him rope on this horse. He didn’t run one calf.

I’ve watched so many people not only not know when to stop, but they don’t know when they need to keep on practicing. I believe this is an art in itself. When I am ON that day, that is when I keep going. When I am hitting on all cylinders and I’m in the groove, this is when I do the majority of my practicing. Most people think when they are having a bad day in the arena they need to keep on until they get it right. I call those days Mondays. You need to be smart enough to realize that this may be the day that you are not really in the zone. This is when you need to find a way to quit on a good note. The very last thing I want to have happen is for me to start questioning my ability because of a bad practice day. That’s the whole deal. KNOW WHEN TO QUIT! Like mentioned before, I truly believe the knowing when to quit is an art. Whether it be for you, or your horse, or both.

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

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February 2015 (Down The Line, Stran Smith)

I never claim to be the greatest cowboy that ever lived, but I dang sure have been in the same pasture as a few of ‘em. My granddad, my dad, and my brother are three of the greatest cowboys I know. When I was a little boy my most favorite thing to do was sit and listen to my granddad tell stories about doctoring screw worms, or catching maverick bulls, or hunting coyotes with a pack of greyhounds horseback. The best thing about those stories is my granddad did not exaggerate. He told it like it was and how it happened. Needless to say my dad and granddad’s guardian angles were constantly working overtime. It seems like nearly everyday they were in some kind of crazy scenario or wild wreck. My dad and my granddad were side by side everyday from the day my dad could walk until the day my granddad passed. And even on the day my granddad passed I had never heard an ill word between the two of them.

My dad’s definition of a cowboy is knowing what a cow thinks before she thinks it. Now to the common person that probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. But after you’ve set your butt in a saddle for nine to ten hours in 110 degree heat, or broke a 40 mph wind with a 5 degree windchill, this takes on a whole new meaning when you got a silly cow thats got her head up wanting to come back over the top of you when you’re 200 yards from the gate and you’re trying to stick her in a pen. I feel an obligation as a fourth generation cowboy to be able to pass on this heritage, this legacy of what is somewhat of a dying breed to my kids. More importantly the characteristics of what I feel a true cowboy stands for; Honor and integrity while being true to your faith, your family, and yourself.

I have really enjoyed my new venture with stsranch.com. I hope through this blog I will be able to help carry on this way of life so it wont be gone forever. If you want to read more from this article you can go to stsranch.com.

Until next time, God Bless and See you down the line.

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January 2015 (Down The Line, Stran Smith)

To say writing this article has been a blessing to me is an understatement. Each time I reach within to discuss something with you guys, it does me more good than it does any reader. Thanks to all of you that give me feedback and ideas. I love hearing from the readers. I get approached from people all over about this article more than all the others things I do combined. It is very overwhelming the amount of people that this article has reached or touched in some way or another.

So for all you wanting more… We have launched a blog site. STSRanch.com has been a long time coming. On the site, I have the opportunity to write about things that you guys ask about in more detail. I will give tips on rodeo, fitness and nutrition, ranching, highlight my favorite products, favorite people, and just talk life.

Jen has also gotten requests and consulted in the western fashion world, so it will be a joint effort. She is blogging about western fashion, fitness, food, and western lifestyle. It is a true lifestyle site.

Check it out and let us know what you think. Make no mistake. I, in no way, think I have it all figured out. I just believe in the western lifestyle we all live. We want to pass down a heritage and a legacy of the true cowboy, and cowboy way of life… We, more importantly, strive to emphasize the principals that this country was built on: HONOR and INTEGRITY while being TRUE to your faith, your family, and yourself.

This might have been one of my busiest WNFR’s yet. It was go go go from the moment we arrived in Las Vegas. I’d first like to say congratulations to Stetson and Chenae Vest. I was honored that they asked me to officiate their wedding. I also spoke at Elevation Sunday with rodeo greats, Cody Custer, Dean Gorsuch, and Ryan Gray. Amongst those two things Jennifer and I had a great time hosting the Wrangler NFR Countdown Show at the MGM Grand every night before the rodeo.

I also had the opportunity to interview Madison Bumgarner, the San Francisco Giants MVP pitcher, for the Wrangler Network. What an awesome guy he was. If you don’t know much about WranglerNetwork.com, take a look. They broadcasted several things from the WNFR, including our show, Elevation Sunday, and Miss Rodeo America, and they are simulcasting lots of rodeos year round. A website to keep you’re eyes on throughout the year. Last but definitely not least, special congratulations to my nephews, Trevor and Tuf for winning the World! God

Bless and See you down the line,

Stran T

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Perspective (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Veteran’s Day is just around the corner and if you stop and think about what this really means, you will probably gain perspective.

 

The nature of competing for a living can be all consuming. Besides the rodeo lifestyle is not what I’d call normal. You often find yourself in a very small circle of people, most of whom you are trying to beat on a daily basis.

 

A lot of people live and die with every run they make, as well as the runs their competitors make. If you’re not careful you can find yourself rooting against someone. In fact, I can’t think of one person who, when leading the round, at the NFR, is rooting for the guys that go after him.

 

Early in my career I recognized that I had a hard time talking to people about things other than myself, or my roping. It was disappointing to me and that’s when I started to realize that God was not going to fall from the heavens if I missed one. My calf roping would not affect world hunger.

 

It’s been a transformation where I don’t need to be consumed by roping and rodeo. When you have a very specific goal in mind, it’s important to stay grounded, balanced, and to have people around you to help with that. It cannot become the center of your wheel; it always needs to be just a spoke in the wheel.

 

In the latter part of my career it’s easy for me to root for my family, more than myself. I’m able to enjoy their successes and hurt with them during their failures. There’s so much more to life than winning and losing, buckles and championships.

 

Now consider the meaning of Veteran’s Day. Those who fight for our country are not playing a game. They are fighting for their lives. On a day where you miss your calf, or break out to win the roping, someone somewhere is risking his or her life to protect you. Past and present, they have put themselves in harm’s way to protect this great country and allow us to pursue our dreams.

 

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

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September 2014 (Down The Line, Stran Smith)

This morning I read an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing the possible fate of RFD TV. Patrick Gottsch, Founder of Rural Media Group, Inc. has issued a plea to fans of RFD TV on their website to contact the FCC with links to do so. Below are the first two paragraphs of his article (full article can be found at: http://www.rfdtv.com/story/25591691/mergers)

“There are two major media mergers pending at this time, Comcast Cable with Time Warner Cable, and AT&T U-Verse with DIRECTV.  If approved, these four companies combined will control cable and satellite programming into over half the households in this country affecting 54,000,000+ homes in all 50 states. With good reason, RFD-TV and RURAL TV viewers are concerned about the future of rural programming with so many homes being controlled by a few, urban-based program directors.  Comcast cable recently removed RFD-TV from the entire states of Colorado and New Mexico, and then added Al Jazeera America to these same systems two days later.”

Also on this page are links that make contacting the FCC easy. Please take the time to do this. So often we are consumed with our busy, demanding lives and fail to get involved in important issues.

This directly affects people involved in the rodeo, cowboy and equine way of life. Listed below are just a few of the shows we stand to lose if we can no longer watch RFD TV:

  • All Around Performance Horse
  • Cinch High School Rodeo Tour
  • Universal Horsemanship
  • Chris Cox Horsemanship
  • Down Under Horsemanship
  • Horse Master with Julie Goodnight
  • Little Britches Rodeo
  • Parelli Natural Horsemanship
  • Ride Smart with Craig Cameron
  • Women’s Pro Rodeo Today
  • PBR Heroes and Legends
  • Professional Roughstock

It doesn’t get much easier than clicking a link and filling out a little information with the chance to voice your opinion. Get involved! It matters to us all. Please take the time to follow the link listed above. To read the full Wall Street Journal article, visit: http://online.wsj.com/articles/rural-tv-channel-circles-the-wagons-1407778487

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

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Don’t Shut that Door! (Down The Line, Stran Smith)

Some time ago Clif and Tuf invited me to go to Brazil to help them with some clinics. I really didn’t want to, but an opportunity to spend some time with them was worth the trip. Consequently, I absolutely fell in love with Brazil.

The people were so welcoming and hungry for the knowledge we had to share. Their passion for calf roping was unbelievable. It was rejuvenating and created a stir in me that caused me to wonder.

While in Brazil, at one of the jackpots, I rode a really nice little horse and tried to buy him. His owner, hosting one of our schools, said, “No, I can’t sell him, he’s part of my family.” I made another attempt to buy him on our next trip to Brazil while teaching at his house. Again, the answer was no.

I also met a nice young man while there, named Marcos, and invited him to the United States to rodeo. Marcos took me up on the offer and suddenly my “stir” was a full-blown passion to rodeo again. Marcos went back to the man with the horse and told him, “Stran said he would leave you alone after this, but he wanted me to ask one more time if you would sell your horse.”

He asked Marcos if we really needed the horse, and Marcos told him we did. He then sold me the horse and we started the long process of getting him shipped to the United States. I don’t know of anyone in rodeo who has shipped a horse over, but I honestly believe you could smuggle just about anything easier than shipping livestock in to the United States.

Now, I’m as excited about hitting the rodeo trail as I was in my twenties. I have a great guy to rodeo with and two of the best horses I’ve ever owned.

Amazingly, the entire chain of events would not have taken place if I had not made that first trip to Brazil that I really didn’t want to do at the time. This is a good reminder not be so quick to shut a door and or give up on a commitment. I know God has a plan – not just for me, but a plan for everyone and is constantly working in our lives. I could have stopped the entire flow of events with just one “no.”

So, think twice, or even three times, before you turn down an opportunity.

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

Stran Smith – July 2014

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May 2014 (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Recently I was asked to speak to the Bloomer National High School rodeo team. Randy Bloomer and his family do a great job of supporting youth in rodeo. They bring these kids, and their families, to Salado for several days. There they are taught a number of things to help prepare them for the next step in their rodeo career. While many of them may not become professional rodeo athletes, most will at least go to college and compete at the collegiate level.

These kids are given some media training and a chance to listen to and ask questions of professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls. Jennifer also gave them mock interviews. Randy prepares them for the next step and are taught what’s expected of them. This type of investment in our youth makes me proud to be on the Bloomer team and call them a sponsor.

Regardless of where these kids go after high school, it’s important to never stop being a student. We are all exposed to wise people with life experience and how often do we take time to take notes. You think, ‘I’ll remember this conversation.’ If you remember 10% of what you hear you will be lucky.

Think about this: If I were to give you the winning lottery numbers…. Would you take a chance of remembering them? Or would you scratch the numbers in your skin with a knife if necessary to be sure you had the right numbers? You bet you would. Because, by winning the lottery, the outcome would be life changing. Some of the wisdom we allow to drift by us could also be life changing. Write it down.

I’m very goal oriented. I make lists and write things down. The items on a to-do list for today are actually mini goals. I believe every day we should have a list of things we want to accomplish and write them down. It’s proven that you will achieve more by using a list.

The other thing I think is important for young people, or all people, to keep in mind is never miss an opportunity to shut up and listen. One thing I know for a fact is we do not get any smarter while we are talking.

Some of the people I respect the most are people who say very little and yet, could brag for days about their accomplishments. They have no need to prove anything or impress anyone.

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

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Do You Know What You Don’t Know? (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

It seems the older I get, the more I realize how little I know. Twenty years ago, when I was 23, I was pretty sure I had it all figured out. Now I’m quite sure I don’t have anything figured out. And if I live to be as old as I want to, well there’s no telling how dumb I’ll be by then.

My point is this: You need to know what you know. But more importantly, you need to know what you don’t know.

Many times I’ve been in the position of teaching and can’t get my point across because of people telling me what they know. It’s hard to understand why anyone would attend a clinic and then spend that time trying to impress me with their stories or theories rather than learn. My patience at times runs thin and one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Phil comes to mind, “Never miss an opportunity to shut up.”

The person I’ve looked up to the most all my life, undoubtedly has been my dad. He has always amazed me with his ability to listen quietly to stories, often embellished beyond belief, and never make a comment. He is humble and patient, and in reality my dad has forgotten more than most will ever know about being a cowboy.

My lesson is this: shut your mouth and listen. I’m speaking to myself. I’m often asked to speak at events, but I know that doesn’t mean I’m any smarter than anyone else in the room. I’m getting to the point where I’d rather listen than speak. The more time I can spend with my mouth shut and ears open, the better I am.

Remember, you need to know what you know. But more importantly, you need to know what you don’t know.

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

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Trying Your Best (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

My boys were given compound bows for Christmas by a family friend and have spent a few hours shooting at targets. They came in the other day and said they wanted to compete at a 4H archery competition. There was going to be a barbeque afterwards and it would be for one day, maybe two.

My immediate response was “Absolutely not!”  I proceeded to explain that you don’t just enter a competition for something to do without being prepared. There would be people in this competition that had worked at this for years.

Now, if they want to spend the time working at it, then I’m all about it. But in a time where much of society has an entitlement attitude and too many folks want something for nothing… I want my kids to strive and work at whatever their passion is. I will support whatever they decide to do, as long as they are willing to work at it. It may sound like I’m a slave driver, but I believe it would be an injustice to my children to allow them to compete and fail because they didn’t do the work necessary.

I tend to get on my soapbox anytime someone wants something for nothing or expects to achieve something big with little or no effort. I don’t care what you do – just be the very best you can be. Competing is not fun to me. Being prepared and competing is what’s fun. Now if I get my butt kicked and I’m prepared, I don’t mind that. But if I haven’t done what it takes to be ready, and then get beat – that’s no fun.

I don’t want my kids to be people who just go enter for fun without expecting the best from themselves. I don’t want them to do anything half way. There’s no reward in that and little self-respect to be found.

My son told me the other day that he wants to be a professional basketball player. I told him, “Don’t tell me, show me.” I will support my kids in whatever they choose to pursue, as long as they work at it and give it their personal best.

Lots of people want to be world champions, or be rich, but they don’t want to do what it takes to get there. I don’t care if children are neither, but I want them to know the gratification that comes with trying your very best.

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

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Stay focused on your vision (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The Western Market in Denver just wrapped up and I couldn’t be happier with the response for STS Ranchwear. This was just our second year and we took more orders in the first few hours than we did for the entire market last year. The other day a customer came in the booth and I was trying to help him. He asked what my role in the company is, and I answered, “I’m head of product testing. I’m the crash test dummy and if it survives me, it gets a thumbs up.”

Lots of folks have asked how and why we started this business. As ranchers, we recognized a void in the marketplace for actual ranchwear. There really wasn’t a line out there.

When we need to have a photo shoot for a commercial or ad, we don’t have to set anything up. We just need someone who can take great photographs and knows how to stay out of the way while we’re working on the ranch. These are actual products we need and use in our ranching lifestyle.

Usually I’m talking about seizing opportunities, being aggressive, and making
“it” happen. That has both helped and hurt me in and out of the arena, but that’s just my personality. Especially in business, it’s important to look at all scenarios, weigh the options and be able to see more than just blue sky. Sometimes the best decision is to not do it.

For these reasons, though we believed there was a need for these products, we proceeded slowly and took our time. First we teamed up with specialists. Carroll Leather is the #1 leather wholesaler in the United States. Also, many people don’t know that my wife, Jennifer, is a great designer and has great vision for fashion and other design. Her STS handbags have far outsold our expectations.

We now have many opportunities to expand our line and brand in different directions and products. The biggest challenge is to stay on course and proceed slowly. Though it’s taken a little longer, I believe we’re enjoying this success because we didn’t try to grow too fast and we remained focused.

Finding a balance between seizing the moment, or opportunity, and being prudent will always be a challenge. At this point in my life I’ve learned the value of taking some time and “sleeping on it.”

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

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