Caleb Smidt Continues 6.9-second Trend with Round 5 Win
Caleb Smidt was first out in Round 5 of the 2023 NFR and set a standard that no other tie-down roper could touch.
Caleb Smidt goes 6.9 to win Round 5 at the 2023 NFR.
Caleb Smidt goes 6.9 to win Round 5 at the 2023 NFR. Photo by Jamie Arviso

Caleb Smidt matched the fastest time of the 2023 NFR tie-down roping so far in Round 5, roping in 6.9 seconds to earn his second go-round win of the rodeo on the night of Dec. 12.

Reigning world champion Smidt has amassed $61,412 within the walls of the Thomas & Mack this year, moving into No. 4 in the world standings with $204,541 earned. (He entered the event No. 7 with $143,128.)

“I want to keep making good runs; keep knocking them down,” Smidt, 34, said. “I always say you want two checks after Round 10.”

Smidt’s currently No. 7 in average contention but hopes to continue climbing up the ranks.

Caleb Smidt’s Tuesday night turnaround

Smidt drew Calf 23, which hadn’t been run in a performance, but had notes that signaled he’d be a willing partner.

“I had a good calf and my horse worked good,” Smidt said. “I had to figure some stuff out at the beginning of the week—I wasn’t doing my job very good—but I was first out tonight and went at ‘em to see what happened.”

The win comes after a rough Round 4 that kept Smidt out of the money. When he went to tie his red calf on Monday night, he missed a back leg, costing precious moments on the clock. Despite the trouble, Smidt said it didn’t change his game plan for Round 5.

“I figure I made it here; I had better practice before I got here,” Smidt said. “I’ve never practiced out here. It’s all mental once you get here. I was telling myself, ‘Do a better job.’ I didn’t pause when I was tying tonight either—when you’re going for 6.9, you don’t have time to think. I’ll think things when I throw my hands up.”

Smidt did it all with the help of NFR veteran “Pockets,” who Smidt says has carried him to each of his nine NFR qualifications and earned far more than $2 million.

“I’ve run thousands of calves on him, so he’s getting old,” Smidt said. “He’s only 16, which isn’t that old, but he’s got some maintenance. He’s plenty good for five more runs here.”

Smidt and Pockets will face a double-header on Wednesday, Dec. 13, due to the UNLV shooting tragedy that resulted in the cancellation of Night 1 of this year’s National Finals Rodeo. Smidt says he’s looking forward to the 10 a.m. performance, especially since it will be a ‘slack’ setting.

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