LAS VEGAS – A large crowd watches as
he sits alone in a fenced chute on the bare back
of a snorting horse. The gate opens and eight
seconds later, Pinedale youth Eian Smith,
hears the buzzer, dismounts – hopefully
landngi on his feet – and a score is posted.
Doing that three times at the 2018 Junior
National Finals Rodeo, Dec. 6 through Dec.
15, in Las Vegas, Nev., earned him second
in the world – Reserve Champion Bareback
Bronc Rider in the Junior Division.
It wasn’t just that easy. The three rides are
a culmination of a four-year career, traveling
to rodeos twice a month, sometimes driving all
night there and back to accommodate family
Eian has also alternated workouts to
strengthen his core and improve balance with
practice rides on his bucking dummy, giving
him more control.
As for his parents Michele and Paul Smith,
being part of the team means they are chauffeurs
“We load the vehicle and my dad picks me
up after school and my mom when she gets off
work,” Eain said.
The family heads out to the rodeo of the
weekend, including four a year in California.
“We’ll drive to Elko before stopping to
sleep and finish driving to competition in California,”
After the competition – win or lose – the
process is reversed to get back to Pinedale and
school by Monday morning.
“It takes a team to build a champion,” Paul
said. “We’re his team.”
That hard work and teamwork paid off
when the 12-year-old placed second at Nationals
In his first go on Dec. 6, Eian scored 78
points, third behind Ethan Cart and Kash
Loyd, who tied for first place with 83 points.
“Kash had a great horse the first day and
Talon (Ping) gave it a great effort to keep
spurring,” Eian said evaluating his top competitors.
He also was evaluating the horses, not just
during the competition but also throughout the
season. A bronc rider never knows when he’ll
meet a horse again.
Eian drew a horse named Ozzie, provided
by stock contractor Bar-H.
‘It takes a team to build a champion’ and for Eian Smith
his father Paul is on the team that drives him to rodeos and
helps him with his gear.
Eian Smith shows off his belt buckle for Reserve Champion.
“He came out straight and bucked two or
three times so I could spur,” Eian said. “Then
he turned back right pulling me off balance. I
sucked myself back in and was able go back
to spurring.” That effort earned him 78 points
in the first go. Of the 31 competitors in the Junior
Division, Eian tied with Taylor Spears for
third place and ahead of 16 other competitors.
Twelve riders failed to hold on the full eight
seconds and didn’t score. Talon Ping finished
with a 78 for fifth place.
In the second go on Dec. 8, Eian had another
successful ride drawing a horse called
Barbed Wire, provided by stock contractor CT
Rodeo of Multa, Idaho.
“I was able to get lots of action,” Eian said,
adding 81 points for a cumulative total of 159
Braunson Sims won the round racking up
90 points, the highest for the entire Junior
Division competition, with 164 points after
the two rounds.
Loyd earned 81 points giving him 167
points after two rounds and the lead. Ping
had 78 points for fourth in the round and a
combined 154 points.
Only the top 10 riders were allowed to go
into the Dec. 10 finals, Eian and Cart were
tied for third ¬place, both with 159 points.
“We were all within five or six points
going to the short round,” Eain said.
He drew a horse named Conner provided
That was his last competition Eian was eligible
to compete in the Junior Division for riders
aged 10 to 12. Even though he turned 12
in July, he was eligible to compete as a junior
through the end of 2018. For the new year, he
competes as a senior.
Since returning to Pinedale following his
adventures in Las Vegas, the seventh-grader
caught up on the missed class work and turned
in the homework he took with him on the trip.
He’s also taken a couple weeks off from his
daily workouts but he plans to get back to it
“I want to keep working out so I can maintain
my position in the Senior Division,” Eian
However, Eian isn’t a one-trick pony; he
also plays basketball and in the fall he plays
As for rodeo, Eian said he plans to keep riding
bareback and he may try to master saddle
broncs. He’s put that off for now, unwilling to
alter his success in bareback with the different
spurring action needed for saddle broncs.
“It’s fun. Every horse is a different roller
coaster,” Eian said.
As for Dad? Paul said if Eian chooses not
to compete in rodeo, “That’s fine, but he will
find something else. Staying home glued to
electronics is not an option, no television or