Clay Smith is no stranger to the Lazy E Arena. Just last year, Smith left Guthire, Oklahoma with $28,000 after turning in a combined time in five events on 332.8 seconds after five rounds, good enough to take second behind Jess Tierney who won the TEC with 326.8 seconds on 25 head. Smith’s head horse Higgins Frenchman also won the AQHA CTEC Top Horse award last year. He’s placed three out of the four years that he has entered and hopes to bring home the number-one spot this year.
Kaitlin Gustave: How many years have you competed in the CTEC?
Clay Smith: This will be my fifth year to go. I’ve won second twice, placed once one time and no good one time.
KG: What is your best memory there?
CS: The best memory for me at the Timed Event would definitely have to be the time that I got the call for the first time to get invited.
KG: What is your worst wreck?
CS: Probably last year. I’ve never really been hurt there. The year before last I was kind of hurt before I went. But last year in the steer tripping. Whenever I got down there hassling around with the steer is probably one of the biggest wrecks to me. My wife showed me a picture that was on Facebook or something that the Timed Event had put up and it was a picture of me on top of the tripping steer.
KG: What event is the most difficult?
CS: The steer roping is one of my least experienced events.
KG: What horses are you going to be taking?
CS: I’ll take Ransom to head on, and I’ll be riding one of my brother’s (Jake Smith) heel horses I’m sure. I’ll probably have the same calf horse that I rode last year there. In the bull dogging I’m not really sure yet. I have a bull dogging horse. In the tripping I’ll most likely be riding one of Tom Smith’s horses.
KG: Who is helping you this year?
CS: My brother Jake.
KG: The 2018 rodeo season is starting back. When do you find time to practice?
CS: The winter isn't too busy for us so there’s been quite a bit of down time. I’ve been able to be home a little more and work on some stuff. It’s not so bad—kind of a good time.
KG: What advice can you give for the Jr. Iron Man contestants?
CS: Probably the best advice that I have is to try not to rush yourself in the end. Whatever your weakest event is that’s what you need to do the most of. For me, I’ve been trying to trip more steers this time because I know that that is probably where I have the least experience at. Really, whatever your weakest event is then a guy needs to get comfortable with getting better at. Whatever your weakest point is try and make it your strongest.