2nd in the world

Eian Smith gets pulled off center during a ride on Ozzie in the first go at the 2018 Junior National Finals Rodeo, Dec. 6. He was able to recover and resume spurring to earn 78 points. MICHELE SMITH PHOTO

Smith conquers 3 rides to earn Reserve Championship

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.

Team effort

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

work schedules.

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

and coaches.

“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,”

Paul said.

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 December.

Las Vegas

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

Moving forward

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

video games.”


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