Cactus Saddlery, Cactus Ropes, Pro Equine Products and Heel-O-Matic introduce new PRCA Branded Collection

Deerfield, Ill.—November 1, 2011—Cactus Saddlery, Cactus Ropes, Pro Equine Products and Heel-O-Matic Training Systems recently announced the debut of their PRCA Branded Collection. The line was developed in conjunction with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and will feature select products that carry the famed organization’s logo.

The companies, which are subsidiaries of the Pro Equine Group, are the designated makers of the Official Saddle, Rope, Equine Sports Product and Roping Training Device of the PRCA.

“We are fully committed to our partnership with PRCA and are proud to incorporate their logo into a select group of products, including equine apparel, practice devices, rope accessories and tack,” states Rebecca Thomas, Senior Marketing Director of the Pro Equine Group. “This line provides a unique opportunity for authorized retailers to share the partnership and gives rodeo enthusiasts another way to connect to this iconic association.”

The PRCA Branded Collection will be available for purchase at select retailers in early 2012.

More about Cactus Ropes, Cactus Saddlery and Pro Equine Products

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit cactusropes.com to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.

Cactus Saddlery is a premier manufacturer of Western saddles, strap goods and saddle pads. Each quality leather good is hand-crafted by skilled artisans at their Greenville, Texas, location, guided with the expertise of professional rodeo athletes. Visit cactussaddlery.com to preview its entire lineup of merchandise, design a custom saddle or locate a retailer.

Pro Equine Products, also of Pleasanton, Texas, is a top manufacturer of protective horse boots and apparel, all of which are designed and tested by champions in a variety of disciplines. Visit proequineproducts.com to learn more about the company’s line, watch informational videos, meet the Pro Team members or sign up for promotions and newsletters.

In 2012, Cactus Ropes, Cactus Saddlery and Pro Equine Products will merge to form Cactus Group. Part of the Pro Equine Group family of brands, Cactus Group promises to continue to deliver top-quality products that promote the Western lifestyle.

More about Heel-O-Matic

Heel-O-Matic of Longmont, Colo., is the leading manufacturer of team roping training aids. Heel-O-Matic products are designed to provide perfect practice for every level of team roping competitor and horse trainer, from youth to professional. Not only will a Heel-O-Matic machine help improve a roper’s abilities, but targeted drills on the most life-like machine on the market will also help a roper’s horse.   Heel-O-Matic is the only roping machine with the “Heel-O-Matic Hop,” a patented hopping motion that replicates the actual movements of live cattle in tow.  These machines reproduce unlimited run patterns in any location, providing targeted practice to fit any schedule. For more information, visit heelomatic.com.

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A Fred Whitfield Story (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Not long ago my dad and I built a water gap out on the ranch. Afterwards my dad said, “Well that’s probably the nicest water gap no one will ever see.” As I took a picture with my phone, I said, “Dad, you don’t realize how many people will see this on Facebook.” We worked hard and in a day’s time built something that will last for years to come.

A few days later I was in Omaha, Nebraska, for a speaking engagement during the tour finale. Afterwards I was talking to a couple of businessmen who were not rodeo people, but both had pretty amazing stories.

The first guy happened to be at a rodeo with his small daughter who wanted to enter the Mutton Busting. Neither was dressed in cowboy clothing and were a little out of place. With no prior experience, the dad didn’t have much advice for his daughter. The Tie Down roping immediately followed the Mutton Busting and there was a calf roper who noticed the little girl looking nervous so he struck up a conversation with her. They visited for ten minutes or so and he assured her that he got nervous too. Ironically, she won the Mutton Busting and her dad was surprised to see that calf roper come congratulate her. He stuck around to watch the Tie Down roping. As the announcer introduced their new friend, he was surprised to find that Fred Whitfield was an eight-time world champion.

The other businessman in our little group exclaimed, “I have a Fred Whitfield story too!” A friend of his was roping in Salinas, California, and had made it to the short round. Unfortunately the horse he had been riding was sent to another rodeo before hand.  He was looking for a mount. There aren’t many places as hard on a calf horse as Salinas and repeatedly he was turned down. He then asked Fred Whitfield who replied, “You bet, get on.”

The three biggest athletic professions are football, baseball and basketball. These professional athletes usually have agents and marketing people that seize any opportunity to promote them. If they make an appearance at a hospital or charity, you can bet there are photographers on hand. In both of these stories there was no photo op or agent watching Fred. He was acting on his own, from his heart.

Fred’s competitive drive has been the force behind his more than 3 million dollars in career earnings to make him one of only 3 people to ever accomplish this.  What I want people to realize is that there are many more stories like this , not only about Fred, but most all full time rodeo guys. Many of which never become public knowledge.

Fred Whitfield made quite an impression and created some great memories for those people.  And much like the water gap we built out on the ranch, not many people get to hear about it – but a good job was done just the same.

We still have some spots available at my Tie Down school on November 19th & 20th at my house in Childress. If you are interested, call me at 806-570-8611 or email me at strant@aol.com.

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

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A New Era (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Stran Smith, World Champion Calf Roper | Endorsee of Cactus Ropes: Official Rope of the PRCA

Stran Smith, World Champion Calf Roper | Endorsee of Cactus Ropes: Official Rope of the PRCA

Today was the beginning of a new era for our family. Jennifer has homeschooled our boys and they both started public school today. Stone started the second grade and Scout started kindergarten. Things are going to be very different for us. In the past, if I needed to be gone for two weeks, we all loaded up and off we went. I’ve had the luxury of always having them with me. Now, it’s a different ball game and we’ll have to see where it leads us.

Last week, some dear friends of ours, Cody and Stacy Custer, lost their son Aaron in an accident on his first day at college. We went and stayed with them and then returned for the funeral. It was truly a celebration of Aaron’s life.

Three boys were together in the accident and one survived. That boy was on my mind during the service and afterwards I sought him out. When I found him, I wrapped my arms around him and told him that God loved him and had plans for him. I told him this was no accident and that it was all in God’s plans. There would be life to live and things for him to do. I told him not to blame himself for surviving.

In 1996, I was in an accident and lost my best friend, Shawn McMullin. Being strong in faith helped me battle the guilt that tried to take hold. Because I did survive, I have tried to live a life that mattered. I have tried to make a difference, where and when I could, and I’d like to think Shawn would be proud of that.

Now, fifteen years later, here I am with three kids and watching my boys go off to school. I’m beyond grateful for what God has given me. I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful family. I’ve had success doing something that I absolutely love. Don’t think for one minute I take any second of any day for granted. God has a purpose for every one of us and I pray that I’m fulfilling his for me.

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

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Letting Kids be Kids (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Father’s Day has me reflecting and reinforces my belief that being a good father is the greatest responsibility of my life. The most important job I will ever have is to instill good values in my children that will help them be happy and caring adults.

Baseball season just wound down last week for my boys. I’m a coach for Stone’s team, along with a friend of mine. These are eight-year-olds playing machine pitch baseball. I wasn’t there, but heard about the play-offs where mothers on opposing teams came up with different scores. The dads got involved and it almost came to a brawl, completely out of hand and unnecessary. This wasn’t even for the championship, just to see who would play our team. Ultimately, the champions would each get a trophy that cost no more than $3.50.  As ludicrous as this sounds, Junior Rodeo is underway and I can only imagine the potential for problems with buckles and saddles at stake.

These kids are seven- and eight-years-old and should be having a good time. I don’t think I’m raising a professional machine pitch baseball player. As coaches, we try and keep it fun for the kids and it’s disheartening to see parents act like this. It really makes you feel sorry for the kids because they have to be under pressure to win and that’s just inappropriate at that age. There will be plenty of time later for them to experience pressure in life.

We have to do the best we can with our kids. My job is to make it fun and let them enjoy themselves and play to the level they are. If they’re seven, let them be seven.  I see a lot of parents push their kids like it’s life or death. This is a kid that’s not even 10-years-old and they are putting the pressure of a 40-year-old on them. It hurts my heart to see kids go through this, playing a game.

At five- and seven-years-old, my boys really aren’t that interested in roping and that’s okay. I can’t put my desire to win in my boys but can let them see my work ethic, without imposing it on them. My philosophy is that some is taught, but most is caught.

When you start expecting too much from your kids, most of the time you’re asking your kid to do something you couldn’t do yourself. When you put undue pressure on a kid to perform like a professional athlete, do you think it’s a reflection of something you may have been lacking in? Oftentimes, the parents who push their kids hard are those who underachieved or under accomplished.

Most people who have accomplished their goals are pretty content with letting their kid be a kid. Those are the kids who are usually the most successful, though not always at an early age. When you push a kid too young and they’re doing it for you, they’ll be burned out and resentful of you and the sport. I’ve never seen a positive outcome from pushing your kids to compete like professional athletes.

Let your kids know you love them. Don’t rob them of confidence by expecting too much of them. Childhood should be happy and not a challenge.

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

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First $4 Million Cowboy Adds New Rope to Arsenal

PLEASANTON, TEXAS—Trevor Brazile, the only $4 million athlete in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) history, and Barry Berg, of Cactus Ropes, have developed a new team rope together—the Freedom 3-strand. The Freedom will be officially launched on July 4.

“The first time I used it, I placed at the Mike Cervi Memorial Roping during Tucson,” said Brazile.

Freedom is a three-strand, nylon poly blend with a small diameter, making it suitable for every level of team roper. It is available in both a head rope (small diameter) and heel rope (medium diameter) and each is offered in Cactus Ropes’ four standard lays.

Freedom is the first three-strand rope in Brazile’s Relentless™ collection. It follows the Xplosion and C4 team ropes, Weapon calf rope and Li’l Pistol youth rope.

“I really wanted my line to have a three-strand rope,” states Brazile. “The pure swing and feel is popular with world-champion-caliber ropers, but at the same time, it’s adaptable enough to be a perfect rope for all levels of ropers.”

In addition to ropes, Brazile’s Relentless collection includes products manufactured by Cactus Ropes’ affiliates: saddles, strap goods and pads from Cactus Saddlery and protective leg gear and blankets from Pro Equine Products.

Join the excitement on Facebook as Cactus Ropes gives away two Freedom ropes each week during June. A unique Trevor Brazile Grand Prize will be awarded on July 4th. Watch the Cactus Ropes Facebook page and www.cactusropes.com for more details.

More about Cactus Ropes
Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, produces top-quality ropes used by amateur and professional ropers around the world, whether in rodeo competition, in roping arenas, with practice dummies or on the ranch. These ropes are endorsed by the top PRCA athletes participating in national rodeo events and enjoyed by all who use them, young and old alike.

The Cactus Ropes brand signifies quality roping products that combine traditional rope-making artistry with exclusive innovations that deliver consistency, feel and swingability. All of their products are chosen and scrutinized for quality to provide consumers with only the best ropes, clothing, tack and accessories. With a full line of ropes, including team ropes, calf ropes, ranch ropes and kid ropes, Cactus Ropes has something to offer anyone who enjoys throwing a loop.

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Cactus Ropes Launches the Freedom

Pleasanton, TX  (May 13, 2011)—Freedom rings on July 4, 2011 when Cactus Ropes launches another great team rope in the Relentless® line.  Freedom is a three-strand nylon poly blend with a small diameter making it a perfect choice for every level of roper.  Freedom is the first three-strand in Trevor Brazile’s Relentless rope collection.  It is available in both a head rope (medium diameter) and heel rope (true diameter) and each is offered in Cactus Rope’s four standard lays.

Trevor Brazile worked relentlessly with rope creator, Barry Berg, to develop the Freedom.  “I really wanted my line to have a three-strand rope,” states Brazile.  “The pure swing and feel is popular with world-champion caliber ropers, but at the same time, it’s adaptable enough to be a perfect rope for all levels of ropers.  Freedom is the ultimate three-strand.  The first time I used it, I placed at the Mike Cervi Memorial Roping in Tuscon.”

Freedom is the fifth rope in the Relentless rope line.  It follows the Xplosion and C4 team ropes, the Weapon calf rope, and the Li’l Pistol youth rope.

Cactus Ropes will give away two Freedom ropes each week during June along with awarding a contest grand prize.  Watch the Cactus Ropes Facebook page for details on the contest or check the website at www.cactusropes.com.

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas produces top-quality ropes used by amateur and professional ropers around the world, whether in rodeo competition, in roping arenas, with practice dummies, or on the ranch. These ropes are endorsed by the top PRCA athletes participating in national rodeo events, and enjoyed by all who use them, young and old alike. The Cactus Ropes brand signifies quality roping products that combine traditional rope making artistry with exclusive innovations that deliver consistency, feel, and swingability. All of their products are chosen and scrutinized for quality to provide you with only the best ropes, clothing, tack, and accessories. With a full line of ropes, including team ropes, calf ropes, ranch ropes, and kid ropes, Cactus Ropes has something to offer anyone who enjoys throwing a loop.

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Live Life to the Fullest (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This is the sixth year I’ve been writing this Down the Line article. Each month this job rolls around faster than you can imagine and I sometimes scramble for something to write about.

So when faced with this task, I remind myself that people actually want to hear what I have to say. Enough so, that they read my article. That’s very humbling to me – to think that people are actually interested in what I have to say. I believe, as it says in the Bible, when much is given, much is required. And though I’ve been blessed and given so much, I’m still honored and take this very seriously.

At the same time, I ask myself, “Who am I to give advice on life?” Usually when I’m writing about life or my philosophy on how to live, I’m speaking as much to myself as anyone. I do try very hard to give good and honest advice or thoughts straight from my heart.

Ultimately what I want for everyone who reads this article is to live life to the fullest. Expect a lot of yourself and revel in your triumphs and embrace life’s challenges. Because on the other side of the hard times are the good times. The best times of your life cannot be fully appreciated without knowing the joy of surviving and triumphing challenges.

Leading up to my recent shoulder surgery I was in constant pain. I had decided that if the surgery did not remedy this, I would seriously look at winding down my calf roping career. During the recuperation I still had some pain here and there and was hesitant to call the surgery a success. Today I roped twenty-five calves and my shoulder hasn’t felt this good in years. I had forgotten what it was like to rope without pain in my shoulder. I could tell by the smile on my dad’s face what a difference it made in my roping.

Though I had dreaded the surgery and what it might mean, I can now celebrate the outcome. Life is a journey that is sometimes rocky and out of our control, but I plan to soak up each moment and experience and thank God for it.

An experience that has been profound for me recently is having a little girl. I love all my children exactly the same amount, but there’s something a little different, more protective, about having a girl. My daughter is two months old now and it still blows me away. She is so dependent, innocent and pure. It’s given me a new perspective.

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

 

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Big Buts (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This evening I filled in for our youth pastor at church and the subject of our class was “Big Buts.” Here are some examples:

  • We would have won the ball game BUT the referee made a mistake.
  • I would have passed Algebra BUT the teacher didn’t like me.
  • I would have won the rodeo BUT my calf kicked.

“Buts” or excuses are a dime a dozen and heard more often in non-professional sports than professional sports. Once an athlete becomes a professional, excuses should be minimal. It’s easy to find a reason why things didn’t go the way you wanted. It’s much harder to be totally honest with yourself.

An honest and good attitude can make “Buts” work in your favor: I didn’t do any good at the rodeo BUT my horse sure worked good.

One of the greatest injustices you can do to your kids is to make excuses for them. I hear a lot of people do this and think they don’t understand that they are giving their kid a free pass from trying to be their very best. It’s so important to be honest with yourself and each other as to why something didn’t work. There’s no shame in not being the best. However, there is shame in being dishonest about it. If you are an excuse maker then you will pass that down to your kids.

My rule is that I don’t make excuses. At the end of everything, ultimately there’s no excuse. If I miss a calf there’s really no excuse. There can be many reasons it doesn’t work out, but ultimately if he’s in the arena, I’m a professional and supposed to be able to catch him.

I hear a lot of people make excuses, but in reality if everything had gone perfectly it would have worked. Realizing your mistakes and addressing them helps you grow. Don’t lie to yourself and accept the easy excuses that make you feel better. You will never improve by giving yourself a free pass.

Till next time, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line. If there’s something you want me to write about, drop me a line at strant@aol.com.

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Broaden Your Mind (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The other day, a friend and I were talking about my last article and letting kids enjoy whatever they compete at. I realize the person I’m really trying to reach and speak to is myself. I truly feel that whatever I write about is what the Lord is trying to convey to me. I want people to know I don’t have this figured out and am a work in progress.

In trying to broaden my mind, I’ve come to believe that if you want to be small minded you talk about people; if you want to be average minded you talk about events; and if you want to be big minded, you talk about ideas. So I told my friend about an experiment I did six or seven years ago while warming up for the slack at Laughlin. I came up with some brainteasers I’d heard and while visiting during warming up I would throw these out to people. It was amazing to see how people reacted. The people who wanted to be small-minded didn’t seem interested and distanced themselves from me. Others would come back all through the day and make guesses and ask questions. I wanted to challenge people and in turn it separated the three categories of people.

What I found was the people who kept coming back and trying to figure out the riddle were the people who were working hard in their life to better themselves, people with a “can do” attitude. This spoke loudly to me. Now when I look back and think about where those people are in life it’s not surprising. There are many people who have a lot of ability who don’t make it in rodeo; then there are people who don’t have as much ability but have a great attitude that do make it. You can win because of ability but you win consistently because of mental toughness.

That kind of attitude will help you appreciate life and make the most of your time. It’s easy for me to get caught up in getting from event to event and looking that the time in between as wasted or down time. Time is what we make of it. If I’m not careful I’ll miss out on the real events in life, which is a Saturday at home with my family. Even if it’s just the boys and me riding horses on the ranch, that’s the real joy in life.

This relates to last month’s article and how hard parents sometimes push their kids. Whether it’s the kids, or us we need to enjoy the moment and what we’re doing. This is not a particularly joyful time for me because I’m having shoulder surgery in the next couple of days. I don’t know whether I’ll be out a month or six months – but on the flip side I’m getting ready for the birth of my little girl and I’m going to be home and not have to miss any of it. Hopefully my shoulder won’t be so bad that I’ll be out six months, but if that’s the case it will just give me that much more time at home to enjoy my family.

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

 

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Winning at All Costs (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Lately I’ve been wondering if I was doing a good job raising my two sons. This made me watch other parents, and I’ve come to realize that society is obsessed with winning at all costs. I see this in Junior Rodeo, softball, football, and any other sport where kids compete. This obsession is easy to see whether it’s a parent screaming at the referee or buying a little kid a $30,000 horse that he doesn’t need.

It’s win at any cost instead of what it should be, which is to compete to the best of your ability and have fun doing it. My seven year old son plays flag football, so how much importance do I put on winning versus competing? My philosophy is to give it your best and have fun.

I’m not trying to raise a professional flag football player at seven, but, at the same time, it’s important to train to win, just not at all costs. When you compete to win at all costs, how will you handle defeat? Do you play the blame game where there’s always an excuse why you didn’t win? Or do you come down very hard on your kid for not winning, to the point where it makes them resentful of you, the sport, and the competition? These are negative things that come from “win at all costs” versus “do your best and enjoy yourself.”

I have a saying when it comes to raising kids: “Some is taught, but most is caught.” Therefore I live my life a lot louder through example than by my words. I have two sons who are very opposite when it comes to competing. One is very tender hearted who doesn’t want to hurt people and he’s a lover. My other son is highly competitive and will bloody your nose to beat you. I have to be very strategic in how I coach and train them.

The winning will take care of itself if a child is meant to compete for a living. That kid will develop the competitive edge when the time is right. As a kid, I was discouraged from roping because my family knew what a hard life this could be. That just motivated me all the more and meant that I was really meant to do it. When I wanted to rope I had to pen the calves, saddles the horses, and then beg for someone to turn them out for me. I still do all that because I still want it that bad. I don’t have a staff of people to do all the saddling and penning for me. My mouth still waters when I think of roping.

If someone had pushed me as a kid, I wouldn’t have wanted it. It wouldn’t have been me, it would have been someone else wanting it. I will never push my kids to rope. It will have to be something they desire and are willing to work for.

If there’s anything you would like me to write about, feel free to send me an email at strant@aol.com. Till next month, God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.

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