Twenty Feet at a Time (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

I’m less than a week off my win at Houston and I know lots of people are thinking, “Man, you won $50,000 in one run at Houston.” Well, yes and no. In reality you have to run six calves to get to that point. Then, at the end, four guys rope for first place.

In a progressive set-up like that, my philosophy is to find out what you have to do to keep advancing and stay alive, and then do that. Every stage has a sudden death where if you don’t qualify in the top four, you don’t advance. It’s very action-packed with instant results, compared to rodeos with first rounds that can last two or three weeks.

Though roping six calves sounds like a lot to get to the winner’s circle, really you just rope one calf at a time. I made the comment the other day that rodeoing is a marathon that is literally run 20 feet at a time. You may run 20 feet today and then it could be a week before you run the next 20 feet.

Regardless, I want to be at the very top of my game for those 20 feet. This year I’ll run between 150 and 200 calves and each calf represents 20 feet. I want to be all in, all there; whether it’s for $500 or $50,000. My horse doesn’t know the difference and I expect him to give his all every time. Why would I expect any less of myself?

Ironically, before Houston I had the least amount of money won at this time of year than I ever have. Now after Houston, I have the most money I’ve won at this time of year. From the beginning of the year, somehow, I just knew it was going to happen.

I was riding around the arena before the rodeo started and thought, “Today could be a day I’ll never forget.” So I thought I should take it all in and enjoy it, which I did. I spent some time praying. Honestly, I don’t pray to win but pray for the opportunity to win. I ask the Lord for a chance and when that’s presented to me I do all I can to make the best of it.

I would like to win all the rodeos I go to, but sometimes my best is not quite good enough and I accept that. I’m not satisfied, but I accept it. I know God works in all things, and I’ve been at the very top as well as at the very bottom where the outlook is bleak. However, it plays out that I want to be the same guy whether I’m winning or not. I’ll be prepared and give it my best shot, but my life is complete and I’m content; though I’ll always do everything possible to run the best 20 feet I can.

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