Giving Back (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Last week I attended Barry Burke’s Junior Roping, for the first time since I roped there myself as a youngster. Barry had invited us to attend and I spoke on Sunday and then stayed and watched until I had to leave for Ft. Smith on Monday.

It’s exciting for the sport because there are a ton of kids roping, much more than when I was young. The caliber of these young ropers is amazing. I credit this to the USCRA and Lanham Mangold for giving calf ropers a place to rope and progress, even if they don’t want to be a professional.

I left there recharged about my sport and encouraged by the feedback from the people I talked to. In the last four or five months it seems I’ve heard from many people who have really connected with my article. You can’t imagine how this kind of feedback encourages me to keep writing and coming up with new ideas.

The reason for this article is so I can give back, and if some of my experiences can help someone else, then it’s all worth it. I feel like we’re here to encourage each other and exchange life stories.

Recently a college rodeo coach told me that the article I wrote about not making finals where I said, “They’ll have this event (NFR) with or without me,” really had an impact on him at a time when he was struggling with his roping. He’s added my article to his curriculum and now they discuss it in class.

Lots of parents tell me how much they appreciate my article because their kids read the same things they’ve been telling them and my article validates that information. They’re appreciative of the message I put out.

If you have a question and see me, come talk to me. I don’t have all the answers and I learn as I go. In my career I don’t need to have people patting me on the back and telling me I’m the greatest. I get my encouragement from things like this. The roping takes care of itself.

I’ve got a new mare that I hope will replace Topper. They say it’s bad luck to change a horse’s name so for that reason I usually do it to prove them wrong. Her name is Adalida and as Topper’s replacement I can’t call her that. I’m known as a “namer” but I was having trouble coming up with a name for her.

I was in Florida and told Dodd, my trainer, that I couldn’t think of a name for my horse. The next day he said he came up with a name, Destiny. He said it was destiny for me to have the horse. So Destiny she is.

In the month I’ve owned her, I haven’t made a practice run on her yet. The other day I flew to California and was so excited to see her. I was riding her around and couldn’t believe she was mine. She makes my job so easy, I’m starting to feel like Superman again.

Recently I heard the quote “Great ropers, make great horses.” Sometimes that’s true, but I feel that the exact opposite is more accurate – great horses make great ropers.