By Heather Miner
Belville, Texas, tie-down roper Caleb Smidt focused beyond life’s adversities to take home a second championship from The American on March 6, 2022.
The three-time world champion’s voice trembled with emotion during the award ceremony while talking about his father watching each calf from heaven, and his family supporting him throughout the competition. This includes brother-in-law bulldogger Rowdy Parrott, who also competed.
Smidt told the cheering crowd, “My dad has always wanted to watch me run every calf. And the day he passed away, he got that privilege, ‘cuz he watches me run every one of ‘em. And I know he’s with me. And my family–they’re all here. They support me each and every day no matter what. Win or lose. I’m just blessed.”
Since 2014, Smidt has overcome a compound fracture in his right leg that required two surgeries and kept him out of competition for eight months. His horse, Pockets, had fluid on his navicular bone, and his father, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law passed away in 2018. In 2020, he was sent home from the WNFR after a positive covid test.
Despite the continued challenges, the 32-year-old and Pockets set a blazing time of 6.87 to best Tuf Cooper’s 7.6 and Riley Webb’s 7.81 to take home the $100,000. Smidt stayed in the hunt throughout the event, taking the top spot in the Contender round in 7.33 and second in the finals with 7.34.
Smidt’s first title at The American came in 2019, helping to push the roper’s career earnings to over $1.7 million by the end of 2021. Later that year, he was inducted into the Wharton County Junior College (Wharton, Texas) Athletic Hall of Fame.
About the Author
Heather Miner is a freelance writer who loves to dabble in a variety of jobs and hobbies, but horses have been a mainstay since her first memories. Growing up, she participated in countless rodeos and parades as part of a specialty act drill team she later coached for over 20 years. Participating twice in the WNFR as part of the Snake River Stampeders Night Light Drill Team was a tremendous thrill and accomplishment.
Living in Southern Idaho with her husband, their daughter, and an ever-changing menagerie of critters offers daily adventures. The family loves camping and exploring outdoor opportunities in their area and afar. Heather also enjoys her attempts at gardening, learning to play guitar, volunteering for the local library (to get a line on the best books, of course!), yoga, sewing, mountain biking, fixing up their 100 year old farm house and refinishing furniture.