Hayes Smith was on the bubble of making his first Finals back in 2017, but he fell just short in the last week of the season and rounded out the year 18th in the world.
But heading into the richest rodeo run of the regular season over the Fourth of July in 2021, Smith sits inside the top 15 with his sights set on a shot at the Wrangler National Finals. He sits seventh in the PRCA world standings with $24,223 won on the year.
Smith and partner Justin Davis had a good winter, winning big checks at the San Antonio (Texas) Stock Show and Rodeo and the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Mississippi. Over the Fourth of July run, they'll go to Prineville, Oregon, Lehi, Utah, Greeley, Colorado, Prescott, Arizona, Oakley City, Utah, Cody, Wyoming, Livingston, Montana, Belle Fourche, South Dakota, Eugene, Oregon and St. Paul, Oregon before getting a break.
"The last couple years I’ve stayed home and worked on my horses and my heading," Smith, 28, from Central Point, Oregon, said. "I went a little last year, and the year before I didn’t rodeo. I knew what I needed to work on and I think I’m ready.
"I’m trying not to get in a hurry. I know I’m fast, but consistency lacked. I’m trying to be more like Chad Masters and catch every steer. I’m trying to ride my horse better and use my rope less. This dun mare is really good, so if I ride her right and use her to her full potential it makes everything better. Basically it comes down to, if I’m in a position to take an extra swing and catch the steer, then I need to do it."
Smith is still riding the dun mare he won Puyallup on back in 2017, and he's got two other good horses in the rig this year—adding to his confidence in their team.
"As a team, our horsepower is really good," Smith said. "I think we’re both roping pretty good and as a team, we’re confident." TRJ