Kaitlin Gustave: The past few weeks we’ve noticed your name in the top spots in the results quite a bit, including first with Jade Corkill and fourth with Paul Eaves at the Second Annual Dixon Flowers Open Team Roping in Inola, Okla., sixth with your brother Jake at the Windy Ryon in Saginaw, Texas and fourth at the Old Fort Days Rodeo in Fort Smith Ark. with Paul Eaves. How do you stay so consistent going from each rodeo or roping?
Clay Smith: I have good partners that I rope with and my horses are doing pretty good. That’s really the main thing is horses and your partner—makes it a lot easier.
Kaitlin Gustave: We’ve notice you recently placed at rodeos in Fort Smith and Spanish Fork, bringing you from 12th place in the PRCA world standings to 10th with a total of $29,277.27. Where do your earnings stand this winter in comparison to years before?
Paul Eaves: You know, last winter we did really good. We don't have as much won this year as we did last year but there's points where I’ve had $5,000 won at this point, so I guess somewhere in the middle.
KG: How has your partnership evolved the last few years?
CS: It’s good! Paul and I have always been really good friends. We are always pretty much on the same page. We don’t ever have to worry about what the other one is thinking about certain situations—so its pretty good. We're a pretty good team on knowing what to do and different kinds of situations. It's one of those deals where if I mess up he knows I'm trying and if he messes up I know he's trying, so it works out pretty good for us.
PE: He’s so easy and good to get along with. We got to know each other better and better—it's pretty simple roping with him.
KG: What is on your bucket list for rodeos to win this year?
CS: Well, I guess just because it’s coming up real soon is the BFI and the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo. I think Paul and I, I'm not even 100% sure, I think we won second or third in the rodeo last year. That would be really, really nice—those two are pretty important to me.
PE: Probably the Finals. We ended up second out there this last year so I’d like to win that—it would be pretty neat.
KG: What horses do you have going right now?
CS: I have three horses that I’m taking with me this summer. I've got Marty. He's my grey head horse that I’ve rode for the last three to four years, maybe longer than that. I think he's 8 or 9 this year and I’ve been riding him since he was 4, so maybe four or five years. I also have a little bay horse that I’m riding, Wishbone, and I have a sorrel horse that I've got going. I’ve got a dun horse that I rode at the Finals the last couple years. I pretty much just save him for stuff like that. He's probably going to stay home for the summer, but if I need him I can ride him.
PE: I’m riding my old grey (Cadillac, 19) that I’ve rode for a long time and a sorrel horse named Spade and a roan called Guapo.
KG: What is the best advice you have ever received?
CS: My dad’s was always encouraging me to catch no matter what. Even if it was fast he was always like “You gotta catch, you gotta catch no matter what,” so you know you don’t get paid if you don’t catch. I try to do that to where even if something goes wrong. It’s really easy for a guy to get in a streak of missing and everyones been there— I’ve been there. It's really hard to get yourself out so just making runs but then being able to go catch like he's always told me I guess has helped. Also, working at it hard. A guys got to work at it hard to do this. There’s a lot of stuff mentally, too.
PE: Probably the best advise I've got with rodeo deal is always keep all your priorities in line. Keep everything prioritized. Don’t make something that shouldn't be first in your life number one. I mean don’t make too much out of roping and rodeoing.
KG: Which roper do you look up to the most and why?
CS: Jake Barnes for sure. I look up to Jake because of a couple reasons. Number one is because he’s really open about knowing that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and I think he’s a pretty good role model of a Christian guy. Number two, I think he’s the toughest guy I’ve ever seen. He’s still to this day won every major roping and every major rodeo and it’s unbelievable what he’s done. Still to this day he can go to a jackpot and he wants to win just as bad as me. To me thats pretty amazing that a guy like that is still that hungry about it and still trying to work at it— still trying to get better horses. That’s pretty cool to me— Jake is the man in my eyes.
PE: Hmm, I really really look up to Allen Bach. He really helped me a lot with my mental work.
KG: What keeps you motivated down the road?
CS: I really wanted to do this for as long as I can remember so I never really had another choice. It’s just one of those things. This is something that I’ve really wanted to do and I was really blessed to have really good family support that would give me the opportunity to try and do what I love. I stay motivated because I’ve always wanted to do it— it’s a lot of fun. The driving is the worst part but staying motivated is easier because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and it makes it fun and at the end you get to go to the NFR at the end if the year and to make the NFR that hasn't gotten old— I love that.
PE: Probably biggest is to always do better. Like trying to approve on your year and theres a lot of things that are motivating but thats one of them
KG: Clay, you placed sixth at the Windy Ryon with your brother (Jake Smith), what’s he been up to? Is he going to rodeo this year?
CS: No, he’s going to stay home this summer. Jake rides a lot of horses and trains a lot of horses. He and my other brother, Britt, they're easing around and roping every day. They ride horses and rope at the house. They probably have anywhere between 50 to 60 horses at the house that they rope on. You can't run out of horses to ride. They rope every day. They may amateur rodeo this year and ease around the house— that’s about it.
KG: Paul, you and your wife Amanda recently had a baby. How has becoming a father been treating you?
PE: It’s awesome—it’s one of the coolest things. It seems like I don’t get to spend enough time with her, but it’s pretty awesome.
KG: Were you rodeoing near the end of her pregnancy? Did you have any plans in case she went into labor?
PE: Yes ma’am. I was in California at some rodeos out there when she was getting close. She had her on her due-date so it never conflicted with anything. If she would have come early I would have turned out and gone home and been there either way.
KG: Has having a child changed your rodeo career any?
PE: You know, it’s pretty new right now—so far not really. She’s so small right now. I’m sure in the future it will but right now it hasn't affected it a whole lot.
KG: Will your wife and baby come on the road more?
PE: They probably won't this summer a whole lot. After she gets a little older she probably will but she's kinda new now so it’s probably best for them to stay in one spot.