Two-time World Champion Team Roper Patrick Smith has been blessed by more than one “once in a lifetime horse” in his career. It all started with Jaws, the little sorrel horse he bought by saving up tips waiting tables at Chili’s. Then it was his longtime sorrel sidekick Amigo.
“I’ve had an amazingly blessed career when it comes to horses,” said Smith, who’s roping with 2020 Resistol Rookie Header of the Year Tanner Tomlinson in 2021. “I’ve basically had two horses that have made my career, between Jaws and Amigo. I’ve had some really good horses, but those were greats. When you lose a great one, it’s like starting all over. Amigo had two knee surgeries and had been hauled two million miles. His right front knee just couldn’t take the road anymore. It was time.
“Since retiring Amigo three years ago, I’ve been trying to piece together another really good set of horses, and am lucky enough to have three of them. But it’s been an interesting year, with all three of them getting hurt and needing time off.”
Patrick’s standout dun stallion Rooster’s been dealing with some soft-tissue issues, and adhesions to the sheath of the suspensory ligament on his right front.
He has a second dun horse he calls Turbo, who’s been his backup long enough to have been second string to Amigo. Patrick won the last Wildfire Open to the World held in its original home of Salado, Texas, in 2017 on Turbo. Then there’s Midas, the black horse Patrick bought from Brock Hanson earlier this year.
Well, guess what? It’s been one thing, then another with all three horses in the Smith Remuda in 2021, and he’s handled it with the help of Outlaw Equine’s Josh Harvey, a whole lot of good, old-fashioned rest and relaxation, and perspective.
“In May, Turbo had a hairline wing fracture, which was a small fracture in his coffin bone on the right front,” Patrick said. “I let him rest, and got him back just in time for the last three rodeos over the Fourth of July run. In June, I rode Midas at the rodeo in Cleburne (Texas), and it was really muddy. The ground was bad, and he ended up with a slight suspensory strain on his left front. He was never really lame, but a little off, and it was just too much of a gamble not to give him some time off.”
And then there was one. And yes, Rooster had to take time off this year, too—twice.
“With Josh’s help, we were able to nurse Rooster back to where we thought I could ride him this summer, then he hurt himself at the BFI in Reno in June,” Patrick said. “He overreached a little, pulled off his right front shoe and aggravated the same injury we’d dealt with earlier in the year. Again, it was a matter of rest. Josh has helped me with all my horses the last 15 years, and is the reason Amigo lasted as long as he did. When he tells me a horse needs some time off, that’s what we do. One year of my career is not worth a horse’s whole career.”
Imagine roping for a living and being afoot riding into the all-important summer run. Thank God for friends. Smith and Tomlinson buddied with Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp over Cowboy Christmas, and Wesley was nice enough to let him on his horses after Hunter Koch mounted Patrick at Reno.
“When it all comes down to it, we’re all one big family,” Patrick said. “And we want to help each other do good.”
There’s all kinds of modern medical technology available to horses today. But there are times, when pressure-free pasture time is the best medicine.
“Having to rope for a living without your horses makes you appreciate just how much they deserve the special care we give them,” Smith said. “And it’s just another page in the rodeo playbook about perseverance. If you’re going to play this game, you better be able to deal with the punches.
“There were things I could have done to bring Rooster, Turbo and Midas back a little faster, but it wouldn’t have been in their best long-term interest. My favorite scripture says it best: ‘All things work together for good for those who love the Lord according to His purpose.’ If you live by that, it’s a great way to level out the peaks and valleys of rodeo and life in general. When we’re living for God’s purpose, nothing else matters and it brings joy and peace.”
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