No Backing Off with Clay Smith


Last year heading into Round 10, we were last out, and I knew what everyone else had done. I had to rope one steer out of the hundreds of thousands of steers I’ve run in my life—but that one steer was the most important of my entire life.

That’s the thing, though. I couldn’t let that thought creep into my mind. It was tempting, it really was, but I had to make myself believe it was just another run in the practice pen.

Luckily, I like to be aggressive—it’s in my nature and how I’m wired. So my mindset was that if I messed up, I wanted it to be because I was trying to win, not because I was trying to be safe or I was backing off. A guy can’t get mad going out trying to win. If I mess myself up, it’s because I’m trying to win first, not because I’m just trying not to lose.

That’s cost me, for sure. I broke a barrier to win the Cinch Timed Event Championship my first time there. I broke a barrier to be high team back at the Bob Feist Invitational and to win the George Strait. But I’d rather be going for it than be afraid in those situations.

I always like to win first. In jackpots, people wait for the short round to make good runs, but if you start out making good runs, you might just have to go catch in the short round. I go at every one, and try to be a in a good spot by the time the short round rolls around. And even then, I don’t want to back off.

Growing up, I was always really competitive with my brothers Jake and Britt. We wanted to win at pretty much everything. But it was an evolution, because if I didn’t catch all of my steers, especially at the jackpots, we were going to be eating bologna sandwiches. Going fast and catching one out of 10 wasn’t going to cut it. But when you get to a certain level, you can figure out how to be more aggressive as far as riding your horse. That’s what I figured out how to do now, to allow me to be aggressive and still take a high-percentage shot. TRJ

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