One More Chance

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.


Follow Up – Still Learning

By: Samantha Smith


In one of my more recent articles, I talked about what it felt like to learn how to win again. Now, weeks later, I’m still trying to tackle the concept. You don’t realize what you’re missing until it’s gone, or in this case until it comes into your life. When I count my blessings, I count my mare, Deana, twice.

If you didn’t read the post before this, I recently bought a new barrel racing horse and entered my first professional rodeo on her. We made a good run in the first round which qualified us into the progressive round at San Angelo, TX. To follow up with San Angelo, I ran in the progressive round on February 11th. Though my run wasn’t fast enough to win any money or qualify for the final round, it was smooth and consistent and I was extremely pleased. As it turns out, switching horses after running the same one for five years straight isn’t the easiest task to tackle. Every horse is different and because of that, each horse responds to different rider cues.

In attempt to allow myself to adjust and allow Deana to get used to having myself as a rider, I have been entering jackpots whenever I can. When I bought Deana, I tried her in a large covered arena and since then I have only been able to compete on her in indoor arenas. Last weekend I was finally able to enter a jackpot at an outside pen. I was nervous to see how she would work as many horses are different outside compared to inside. Not to my surprise, she was a rock star and got us our first 1D check, meaning we were in the fastest set of entries. Our run had plenty of room to improve and we still were able to make money at a large jackpot which makes me so happy looking towards the future.

This past weekend, we had our first college rodeo together as a team in Odessa, TX. The arena at Odessa is smaller than anything we have competed in thus far, and we had some minor struggles with the small pattern. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture which is exactly what I’m doing as I type this. Though I didn’t end up making the short go, I ended up in the top 20 girls in a very tough group with an average run at best. Looking forward, and as Deana and I get more comfortable with each other, I hope for bigger and better things. I have no doubt that we will come back better, faster and stronger at the next college rodeo, but in the meantime we have some pro rodeos to conquer.

With a couple weeks off between college rodeos, I figured it would be beneficial to enter some more pro rodeos in the meantime. Over spring break, I have entered three professional rodeos in Arizona with one of my teammates. I have high expectations as per usual, but I plan on using these runs as preparation for the next college rodeo in Brownwood, TX.

Today I rode my old horse, Max, at a local jackpot and it did not go nearly as well as I had hoped. Usually I would be mad about this, but instead I realized several things that have changed for the better. My riding has improved, my attitude has changed, and I have realized that sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break from things. Tomorrow my parents will be taking Max to Arizona for my older sister to run for a while. I have finally realized that I can’t fix everything, and that someone else needs to take the reins (literally) for awhile.

I haven’t learnt how to win again yet, but I’m working on it and I won’t stop until I succeed.




A Day in My Life

My name is Samantha “Sam” Smith, I am from Rimbey, Alberta, Canada, and I am a junior at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU). People often ask what made me choose to come to Portales, NM of all places for school and to put it quite simply, I am here to college rodeo. When Coach Flinn called in the middle of December my senior year of high school asking if he could convince me to consider coming to Eastern, all I had to do was look at the snow drift outside the front door to make my decision.

Competing in the short-go at the 2015 Frank Phillips College Rodeo.

Competing in the short-go at the 2015 Frank Phillips College Rodeo.

My older sister, Taylor, my best friend, Gina, and both of Gina’s brothers had gone to ENMU before me, so it only felt right that I carry on the tradition… Go Greyhounds! Now that I am in my third year of school, I finally feel as though I have figured out this whole being a college athlete idea (as I write this article at 1am on my three-day break between rodeos… still working on time management, whoops!). With that said, below you’ll find a short description of a day in my life as a college rodeo athlete.

For me, my favorite way to start a great day is to hit the snooze button on my alarm as many times as possible before actually waking up. Is this necessarily the best way I could start my day? Probably not, but I don’t plan on changing that part in my life until I’m a real life grown-up. Once I have finally pulled myself out of bed, I walk outside to feed and water my horses before returning to the house to feed my cute little dog, Charles. Then, I go to class in a ball cap, t-shirt and jeans, get educated and return home. Some days, I will wake up early, put makeup on, do my hair and smile in the mornings for the fun of throwing people off. Once I’ve got the in-class portion of the day completed, it is time to go home and start with the online classes! Because I’m a communications major, I spend a lot of time staring at blank pages trying to remember that cool story idea I forgot to write down six months ago… Fun stuff!

Eventually, I complete my online work for the week, or give in for the day hoping a surge of excellence will come my way before the due date. Once the temperature starts to drop, I head outside to condition and work with my horse, Max. Most days I end up spending several hours outside with him, doing my best to ensure he is in the best physical and mental shape possible before competitions.

By the time I go back inside, my younger sister, Kennedy, has dinner cooked and the daylight is gone. If anyone was wondering, Kennedy is a great chef and more than half-way into the semester has yet to miss a Taco Tuesday. We usually start watching Netflix while we eat dinner and then back to my computer I go! For whatever reason, I always seem to do my best work at night when I should be sleeping.

On rodeo weeks, the trailer has to be stocked with feed for my horse and myself, all of my tack must be packed, the water tank and propane bottles must be full, tires have to be checked, and so many other items on the never-ending list of things todo! Of course, my time to do all of this is squeezed into whatever spare time I have between classes, practice and homework. Though my life is busy, I always make time to spend with friends, often playing a competitive game of “Uno” before bed one day of the week.

My older sister Taylor (left) & I at 2015 ENMU College Daze Rodeo.

My older sister Taylor (left) & I at 2015 ENMU College Daze Rodeo.

In all reality, my life is a little bit chaotic but I wouldn’t have it any other way. ENMU has given me the opportunity to travel 30 hours from home, earn an education, and compete in college rodeos all while making new friends and even adopting a few as family. Without the support of my parents, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I do and I give them credit for raising three girls who rodeo as that’s not the easiest feat. Would I ever complain about a day in my life? Not at all, in fact I may be a little biased but I think I am the luckiest girl on Earth.