By: Samantha Smith
This year has proved to be my hardest year yet competing in college rodeo. Throughout my years of school, I have been fairly successful in rodeo, but this year has been different.
As a freshman, things seemed to come extremely easy for me. At my very first college rodeo I made the short round of competition which is something many people never get to experience. I then went on to win a college rodeo that year and compete in several other short rounds.
Fast-forward to sophomore year, I again made the short round at the first rodeo and started a bit of a streak, qualifying to the following two rodeos as well. When asked, I usually give my older sister, Taylor, a lot of credit for those good runs – thanks to her yelling in the stands and telling me what to do as if I could actually hear her.
Now, this year, junior year, is another story. Junior year has been a struggle to say the least. At the first rodeo, one I have consistently done good at, I didn’t just knock, but I knocked and flipped over the first barrel, something no barrel racer ever wants to do. This put me at an off start to the year, unsure of how to handle the loss at our hometown college rodeo. Next weekend, Alpine, TX, a rodeo I had won third at the year prior, horse and rider miscommunication causing another knocked barrel and another weekend with no short round. Vernon, TX college rodeo, another no-good run… are you seeing the pattern yet?
After the fall semester my parents finally convinced me it was time to get on a different horse as things obviously hadn’t been working with the one I was on at the time. To be truthful, things hadn’t been working for awhile, but I was too stubborn to admit it and wanted to prove that I could fix the problems all on my own. I was wrong.
December was a good month for me, I bought my new horse, Miracle Tash a.k.a. “Deana,” and got to fly home to Canada for Christmas. After New Years, I returned to the U.S., but only for three days before we picked up and went on a family vacation to Costa Rica that my mom had earned through her multi-level marketing company. Though I was happy to be on vacation, I couldn’t wait to get back and get a feel for my new horse.
Well, now it’s April and I’m still working on that whole “getting a feel” thing. People don’t understand that rodeo isn’t as easy as it may seem. In any other sport the game is always the same, you can switch fields, courts, turfs, you name it, but the idea stays the same. In rodeo, a horse switch after six years is like changing sports completely. This change is taking me time to adjust to, in fact, I had to send my other horse home to Canada to allow myself to completely focus on this one and getting our timing. Did I wish I had my old horse at the rodeo we won freshman year by four tenths? Of course I do, but the only way to get better is to make sacrifices and make changes in order to succeed.
The last college rodeo of the year is approaching fast and I am yet to make a short round. That one hurt to even type. To say I am disappointed would be an understatement, but I am not writing myself off quite yet. As I write this, I am sitting in my farrier’s barn doing homework while I get new shoes put on my horse’s feet. Though to some, this wouldn’t seem like a big deal, I’m seeing it as a fresh set of shoes for a fresh set of wins. Tartleton University hosts the last college rodeo of the year, and some say it’s even the best rodeo of the year, featuring smoke, fireworks, and added money which always draws in more entries. At this point, I’m not sure anyone sees me as tough competition, but what they don’t know is that I’m coming for them. This time, I’ve got a vengeance, I refuse to go a year without a short round, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure I’m in that top ten come Saturday afternoon.