Learning How to Win Again

By: Samantha Smith 

“You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again.” –Pat Riley

First thing first, my name is Samantha Smith, I am from Rimbey, Alberta, Canada, and I am here at ENMU on a rodeo-scholarship. Both my freshman and sophomore years I was lucky enough to have success in the rodeo arena at college rodeos and other events. However, with some success I also found my fair share of failure.

Over the winter break, I was fortunate enough to acquire a new barrel racing horse. After a not-so-great 2016 it was time to switch something up, and that meant getting a new horse.

Growing up, I always had fast horses and I rarely struggled to succeed in the rodeo arena. Once I hit high school, I got my hands on “the fastest horse alive,” as I called him, and I quickly trained him to compete. He was good enough to win all through high school. My freshman year of college I was lucky enough to make the short round at the first college rodeo I ever entered, something some people never achieve. I then went on to win the Snyder, TX college rodeo the following spring, and compete in several more short rounds my sophomore year.

This year, things changed a lot for me inside the arena. My good “fast” horse, Max, came across some health problems, first mentally and then physically after he ran through a barbed wire fence. I was struggling to win and losing all confidence in myself as a competitor.

In high school, people were always quick to judge when I failed, and I let that impact me when I should’ve been ignoring the negativity and thriving off of all the positivity in my life. People expected me to fail, and then they expected my parents to go buy me a new, expensive horse, rather than making me fix my own problems. This time, I was absolutely set on fixing my own problems and proving myself to all of those who said I couldn’t. Well… If I learnt anything, it was that sometimes you can’t fix everything on your own.

On January 29th, I competed at my first rodeo since October ’16 and rode my new horse, Deana, at our first rodeo together in San Angelo, TX. Out of the 240 girls entered, we ended up tied for 58th in the go-round, which means we will get to make another run in the progressive performances, which start Feb. 11th.

Deana in her stall at San Angelo.

Learning to win again after losing for so long is possibly one of the hardest things to do in any sport. After today, I am starting to regain my drive and passion for this sport I love and I am feeling my confidence shoot back up to where it should be. Even after placing well among a group of very competitive and talented barrel racers, I still found myself picking my video apart after my run. In fact, not even an hour ago, my mom posted my video on Facebook because she was proud of me, and I texted her asking for her to not post my videos without permission next time. Not because I wasn’t proud of myself and how I did today, but because I, “Didn’t like the way my head tilted around my second barrel.” Obviously I am still working on not being so hard on myself, but my priority at the moment is getting my mom to quit giving me the silent treatment now that I have made her mad because all she was trying to do was brag on her daughter… sorry Momma Nic!

Did I win the rodeo today? No.

Did I do everything perfectly? No.

Am I happy? Somewhat.

Am I working on being better? Yes.