2020 Resistol Rookie Tanner Tomlinson Makes 2022 NFR
Lessons learned over his two-year partnership with two-time World Champ Patrick Smith have paid off for former Resistol Rookie header Tanner Tomlinson. Now, they’re NFR-bound.
Tanner Tomlinson

Former Resistol Rookie Tanner Tomlinson and seasoned ProRodeo veteran Patrick Smith combined forces for their second consecutive season in 2022 and have proven to be a dominant team as they rank No. 5 and No. 6 in the current world standings with $104,251.04 in PRCA earnings per man.

Only eight days remain in the regular season, and 22-year-old Tomlinson from Angleton, Texas, is set to make his very first NFR appearance in Las Vegas this December.

“We had a decent winter and then, the beginning of the Fourth, it was kind of off and on,” Tomlinson said. “After that, we started really working hard at practicing. I got my good gray horse back at Prescott. From there on, we started getting on a groove and started to get a run down. We made a lot of good runs and it really started to work out. We finished the year off pretty strong.”

Tanner Tomlinson
Phillip Kitts Photo

Two-time World Champion Smith has seen the situation in reverse. His ProRodeo career started in 2003 while riding horses for four-time World Champion Allen Bach and was then introduced to the legendary Tee Woolman, with whom he started roping.

“Patrick has really helped me with my horsemanship and how to make a team run,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve worked so hard. It’s more than team roping and just heading and heeling the steer. It’s about chemistry and partnership, and he’s really helped me with working at it.”

Tomlinson’s mental strength has never been better after two seasons roping with Smith.

“My mental game has gotten a lot better being with him,” Tomlinson said. “If I miss a steer for good money, or if we’re high call somewhere or just something messes up, my mental game is to just shake it off and fix whatever happened and bounce back at the next one.”

Tomlinson also has some major horsepower behind him this season. During the winter months, he rode Maddie, his 10-year-old mare and, as of mid-summer, he’s been riding Freightliner, his 14-year-old gray gelding.

Tomlinson has also leveled up his horsemanship under Smith’s tutelage.

“I used to be a big reacher,” Tomlinson said. “My handles weren’t the best and it didn’t help Patrick out. The steers were hard to heel. So, he’s really helped me learn how to keep my head horses good and making sure we stay sharp at all times, even though it’s hard on the road.”

There are three Texas rodeos left on the schedule for Tomlinson and Smith as they wrap up the 2022 regular season: Amarillo’s Tri-State Fair & Rodeo, Stephenville’s Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo and Pasadena’s Livestock Show & Rodeo.

“We got a couple more rodeos, but I’m really excited about where we’re at,” Tomlinson said. “I wish we had a little more won than what we do ’cause we kind of got a late start on it, but we finally got our run down. I’m looking forward to the NFR and the next year with him, too.”

Since being named Resistol Rookie Header of the Year in 2020, Tomlinson has continued to watch other rookies rise to the top of their games as well.

“I always like watching the standings at this time of year and seeing who will make the Finals and who will win what,” Tomlinson said. “I saw Tanner James really made a big push these last couple of weeks. He did good at Pendleton. I’ve been watching Junior [Zambrano] and Blaine [Turner] a little bit, too.”

With the races for the 2022 Resistol Rookie Year-End titles rapidly approaching, Tomlinson provides advice for the current contenders.

“Fight through it and finish strong this year,” he said. “Keep your mental game up and work harder at it next year. Don’t get wrapped up in it. Bounce back next year and set your goals to make the Finals.”

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