West Smith Is On a Rodeo Roll with Round 1 Cowtown Christmas Win
West Smith at the 2022 Arkansas Rodeo Association Finals. | 870 Sports Photography

West Smith from Emmet, Arkansas, put his confidence to work in the 2022 WCRA Cowtown Christmas Championships Rodeo go-round on Wednesday, Dec. 14 with an 8.99-second run.

His fast hands netted him $1,600 for the win and a qualification to compete in the Showdown Round on Saturday.

Round 1’s second-place finisher, Cole Clemons of Okeechobee, Florida, will be returning on Saturday, too. Clemons tied in 9.42 to earn $1,200 and his Showdown qualification, in which the top six tie-down ropers (two from each Qualifier Round, held daily Dec. 14–16) will compete alongside the WCRA’s No. 1 calf roper, World Champion Shad Mayfield, for a chance to advance to the three-person finals.

In that final Triple Crown of Rodeo Round on Saturday night, the champions are guaranteed a $15,000 check each.

“It’s funny what a little confidence does to you,” said Smith, who is coming off a No. 2 finish in the Southeastern Circuit Finals and a resulting qualification to the 2023 NFR Open in Colorado in July.

To qualify for the Cowtown Christmas Championships Rodeo, he nominated the Arkansas Rodeo Association Finals and the Southeast Circuit Finals Rodeo this past fall. In all, he only ponied up less than $300 in nomination fees for his chance at the final $15,000 check.

“They’re really good odds and I’d enter [them] anywhere,” Smith said.

Just “G”

To clinch his Round 1 Cowtown win, the 26-year-old rocketed down the arena aboard mare “G,” whom Smith says fits his style well.

“My horse worked good, minus the shying start and 120-foot arena,” Smith explained. “When I was that late, I said, ‘Do your deal and run to your spot whether you have a 100-foot arena or 400-foot arena. You don’t let whatever is going on affect your run.’

“It’s been a lot of runs, a lot of rodeo and a lot of mistakes,” he continued.

Smith’s calf hit the end of his rope with a few arena feet to spare. From there, he flanked and tied with National-Finals-Rodeo precision.

Smith was originally acquainted with “G” through Kyle Barnett. West was seasoning the mare for Barnett and finally convinced Barnett to partner with him on her. The team works well together and—ahead of Saturday’s Showdown Round—will be making the quick northwestern trip to Denver, Colorado, to compete at the National Western Rodeo Qualifier.

Next Stop, Denver

“We’re going to ride there Saturday morning and catch a flight back [to Texas] since I qualified,” Smith said. “I feel like a real rodeo cowboy. I just say, “Get prepared; this Arkansas kid is ready to go.”

G will make the trip to Denver to compete with Smith this weekend, while a different, familiar mount will be waiting in Fort Worth for him when he returns for the WCRA Showdown.

“Either my dad or a high school kid that rides my other mare, [Rosie, will] meet me over here,” Smith said. “The old tried-and-true. It’ll be fun to ride something different because I’ve been riding [G] for a while.”

Cowtown Christmas Setup

The Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo is one of three WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo events, and pays out more than $360,000 over the four-day event in 2022. It also offers the potential to earn $1 million in the event of a Triple Crown hat trick.

From Dec. 14–16, each event will host 24 contestants total, broken into groups of eight per night. The top two competitors from each of the three nights’ qualifying rounds will then advance to Saturday’s Showdown Round on Dec. 17.

There, the six qualifying go-round riders will compete alongside the No. 1 WCRA-seeded athlete in a battle for a top-three finish. Those top three competitors will then return to the arena Saturday night for the Cowtown Championship Rodeo Finals and a winning check worth $15,000.

Find daily WCRA Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo results at wcrarodeo.com