HEMPSTEAD, Texas – There weren’t many cowboys in ProRodeo happier to see the 2023 regular season come to an end than Tegan Smith.
“That was a very rough year, one I want to forget,” said Smith, 25, a saddle bronc rider from Winterset, Iowa, now living in the southern Oklahoma community of Coleman. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so we’ll just keep pushing forward.”
He put the past behind him and kicked off the 2024 season Friday night with an 81.5-point ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Knights Showdown to take the bronc riding lead at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo with one performance remaining.
“I guess that horse was over at Clarendon (Texas) College during my cousin Riggin’s third year, and that was his favorite practice horse to get on over there,” Smith said of the powerful bay. “We were just talking, and I asked, ‘Hey, do you know this -48?’ He goes, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s my old practice horse; you’ll love it.’ ”
Riggin Smith, the 2019 saddle bronc riding intercollegiate champion, said later that he’d been on Knights Showdown at least nine times while the horse was being bucked at Clarendon practices. Even as a colt, he knew there was something special and explained that to Tegan Smith.
“I was excited,” Tegan Smith said. “That was a great horse. He was jumping and kicking and helped me out. He stayed close (to the bucking chutes), and I felt like I did my part.”
It takes all of that to jump into the lead in the roughstock events: bronc riding, bareback riding and bull riding. Half the score is based on how well the animals buck; the other half is judged on how well the cowboy rides the animal.
Knights Showdown was the perfect remedy for what has been ailing the Iowa-born cowboy.
“With all the highs and lows of the year, you just have to go through it,” he said. “The good thing for me was I got to go back to some rodeos in the Great Lakes (Circuit), so I got to be around Mom and Dad more this summer. That actually helped out, and I made the Great Lakes Circuit Finals.
“It’s eight and a half hours from where I live to home, so when you get a chance to see them, you try to enjoy the most of it.”
He won’t deny the frustrations of the 2023 campaign. Battling and not finding success is difficult on a competitor, especially one that makes a living riding bucking horses. Two years ago, he was living high on the hog, qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo at the end of the 2021 campaign.
He won a go-round in Las Vegas that December and left the Nevada desert with $54,000 in earnings over 10 nights. He finished the year 10th in the world standings.
“After this past year, you realize when it’s your time and when it’s not,” Smith said. “You’ve got to take it and leave and not get too upset and not get too excited at the same time.”
Still, finding his rhythm in Hempstead gives him some confidence to kick off the 2024 regular season. He will ride in Rosenberg, Texas, later this weekend, then will prepare for the circuit finale next month in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I’ll just get on some more horses between now and then and try to stay on this little roll,” he said. “Sometimes when you get in your head, you try to do too much, and that doesn’t help. You just have to let it happen. I heard Rusty Wright say that you have to trust yourself. That’s what I need to do; trust myself.”
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Brayze Schill, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s E10, and Lane McGehee, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Betty Boop, 83.5; 3. Payton Wade, 80.5; 4. Mark Kreder, 80; 5. Bradlee Miller, 78; 6. Will Lowe, 76.5; 7. Weston Timberman, 74.5; 8 Tim Murphy, 74.
Steer wrestling: 1. Cole Walker, 3.4 seconds; 2. (tie) Talon Roseland, Boyd Sawyer and Kodie Jang, 3.8; 5. Heath Thomas, 4.0; 6. Jeremy Burkhalter, 4.1; 7. (tie) Marc Joiner and Justin Shaffer, 4.2.
Team roping: 1. Kreece Thompson/Rance Doyal, 4.0 seconds; 2. (tie) Cyle Denison/Dustin Davis, Lightning Aguilera/Jonathan Torres, Cody Snow/Rosh Ashford and Jake Orman/Corey Hendrick, 4.1; 6. Curry Kirchner/Tyler McKnight, 4.4; 7. (tie) Cole Thomas/Lane Mitchell and Luke Brown/Hunter Koch, 4.5; 9. Chad Masters/Matt Schieck, 4.6; 10. Kolton Schmidt/Landen Glenn, 4.7; 11. Wade Smith/Zach Varian, 5.3; 12. Jerod Andrews/Steve Ross, 5.7.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Tegan Smith, 81.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Knights Showoff; 2. Brandon Lansford, 77.5; 3. Weston Patterson, 76; 4. Jake Clark, 75.5; 5. Jake Finlay, 75; 6. Zac Dallas, 74.5; 7. Will Reynolds, 68; no other qualified rides.
Tie-down roping: 1. John Douch, 8.0 seconds; 2. Chad Weitz, 8.1; 3. Dylan Hancock, 8.3; 4. Paden Bray, 8.4; 5. Colton Redmond, 8.8; 6. Westyn Hughes, 9.0; 7. (tie) Michael Otero, Charlie Gibson, HotRod Jackson and Riley Webb, 9.1.
Breakaway roping: 1. (tie) Tacy Webb and Hali Williams, 1.9 seconds; 3. (tie) Whitney Thurmond and Britta Strain, 2.0; 5. (tie) Beau Peterson and Martha Angelone, 2.1; 7. Christ Braudrick and Cadee Williams, 2.2; 9. Jordi Edens, 2.3; 10. (tie) Shayla Smith and McKenna Hickson, 2.4; 12. (tie) Montana Brown, Timber Allenbrand, Angie Green and Sawyer Gilbert, 2.6.
Barrel racing: 1. Grace Gardiner, 15.28 seconds; 2. Shelley Morgan, 15.31; 3. Lindsay Sears, 15.44; 4. Rainey Skelton, 15.49; 5. Kasidi Smart, 15.55; 6. Ericka Nelson, 15.56; 7. Ivy Hurst, 15.62; 8. Liz Pinkston, 15.66; 9. Carlee Otero, 15.68; 10. Millie Marquart, 15.73; 11. (tie) Jamie Olsen and Oceane Veilleaux, 15.75; 13. Abby Phillips, 15.76; 14. (tie) Jackie Jatzlau, Ashley Castleberry and Alyssa Urbanek, 15.78.
Bull riding: 1. Clayton Sellars, 87.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Bruised Kitty; 2. Shawn Bennett, 85; 3. Colton Kelly, 82.5; 4. Billy John Stephenson, 76; no other qualified rides.