Caleb Smidt Rebounds, Wins Round 2 After Round 1 Disappointment
Caleb Smith let a Round 1 bobble motivate him to nail the barrier and manage an unruly calf to win Round 2 at the 2023 NFR.
Caleb Smidt came back from an infuriating Round 1 mistake to win Round 2 at the 2023 NFR.
Caleb Smidt came back from an infuriating Round 1 mistake to win Round 2 at the 2023 NFR. Photo by Jamie Arviso.

Who won 2023 NFR Round 2 NFR tie-down roping?

Reigning World Champion Caleb Smidt didn’t get the start he wanted at the 2023 NFR, but the cool-headed cowboy from Bellville, Texas, won Round 2 with authority, roping in 7.3 seconds.

“I missed the start last night, and my horse and I were a little late getting out of the corner,” Smidt said. “The calf got way out in front of me, and I panicked and tried to reach.”

Smidt had to tie his Round 1 calf with his second rope and stopped the clock in 16.8 seconds.

“You can bounce back when you get mad enough at yourself,” Smidt said. “Today was a new day. New calf. And I can’t run that [Round 1] one again, so I may as well forget about it. Pray about it; forget about it.”

For the effort, Smidt earned $30,706, moving him from No. 7 to No. 4 in the world standings with a total of $173,835 in winnings.

“You can get worked up in this loud building,” Smidt said. “Each day you just have to back in there and do your job. Don’t get caught up in the fame and glory of this place.”

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Making a tough calf work

Calf 14 was marked as “Okay; Kicks a little,” by note-takers Taylor Hanchey and Destri Devenport. Smidt’s plan? Knock some air out of the big heifer.   

“Tonight I wanted to get a good start, good go, and the calf stepped left,” Smidt said. “I got my slack inside and pulled her pretty good. I wanted her on the ground when I got to her. When I flanked her, she wasn’t going to give me any trouble.”

Smidt noted that when it’s a good calf, he wants to turn them around on the end of the rope. That wasn’t the case tonight, though.

“This was the big pen, and a lot of them were really full and strong,” Smidt explained. “My horse was awesome—pulling on her pretty good and kept her from fighting.”

Smidt’s two-time Horse of the Year “Pockets” is an essential part of his formula for success. Every one of his four gold buckles has come astride the large bay gelding.

“Pockets has been a blessing,” Smidt said. “I loped him a lot more tonight to make sure his mind was right, and he worked great.”

As the NFR rolls on, Smidt is planning on taking it “calf by calf.”

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Nightly NFR calf roping coverage is thanks to support from Rattler Rope.