Nonella's ctec redemption

Roger Nonella to Replace Clay Smith in 2024 Cinch Timed Event Championship
Oregon's Roger Nonella will replace two-time World Champion Header Clay Smith in the 2024 Cinch Timed Event Championship.
Roger Nonella

Roger Nonella got the call he was hoping for Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, when he was asked to step in for Clay Smith at the 40th annual Cinch Timed Event Championship.

The Redmond, Oregon, cowboy is no stranger to the beast that is the Ironman as this will be his fifth trip. Nonella’s best finish came in 2022 when he finished the marathon seventh. This year allows Nonella a chance for redemption after a herniated disc in his back made his 2023 trip less than ideal.

“I finished it off there in the fourth round in the bull dogging and I had surgery the minute I got home, so I really wanted to go back and redeem myself because it was a pretty poor performance last year I thought,” Nonella, 37, said with a laugh. “Hopefully we can do that this year. I was really wanting to get back there again because that was a bad taste in my mouth after that one.”

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Nonella is replacing two-time World Champion Clay Smith who is out due to an ankle injury resulting from a horse falling on him. In true world champion fashion, Smith didn’t want to compete at half gas.

“I can’t squeeze on my left leg,” Smith said. “Riding and roping isn’t fun; there’s no way I can bull dog. I can’t practice, and I don’t want to come up there half-ass. It’s not a big deal at all, just annoying that I can’t practice. I put off the decision for the last two weeks, but I didn’t want to be unprepared. I can’t do any bull dogging for another two weeks.”

Nonella’s Timed Event strategy and horses

Nonella admits that the timing is perfect, because if he had been asked after the first of February he isn’t sure he could have made it work.

“We got a foot of snow last week, and I’m in Oregon still, so I’m just catching horses to start getting them in shape again,” Nonella admitted. “If it was much more than that, it would be even harder for me because I ride all my own stuff, too, other than the bulldogging horse.” 

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The West Coast man is still working on gathering his helpers, but he’s got his A-team of horses lined out.

“I talked to Kody Woodward last year about riding his if I come back, so I got a bulldogging horse,” Nonella explained. “I’ll ride the head horse I rode last year, 7-year-old Goose. My buckskin tripping horse that I’ve rode there the last two years, Stran—he’s my number one tripping horse. I have a calf horse, Mickey, I’ve rode him there the last two years as well. And then I got a heel horse, Chester, that I’ve rode the last two years as well.”

Nonella feels the rounds will be tougher for him, so he’s focusing on a steady-is-fast game plan. At home, he’s focusing on roping the dummy, getting horses in shape and keeping his body in fighting shape.

“I’m trying to do a little bit more stretching and more body maintenance for myself now this year than I have in the past,” Nonella said with a laugh. “That’s what my goal was last year, too, but I kind of got hurt and it put me behind on that. But just trying to get in better shape and be stretching in that way so my body takes it better again.”

Nonella will strike out for the Lazy E a week or two before the Timed Event starts, hoping to lay over somewhere close and practice up, considering Oregon this time of year can get snowy.

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