Roping trailblazer honored

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Most tie-down roping competitors dismount from the horse from the right side after making the catch these days.

But 60 years ago, virtually all ropers dismounted from the left side of the horse. At the time, most ropers were right handed but dismounted from the left side after catching the calf and went under the taut rope in order to move to the right side of the calf so they could flank and tie the animal from the right side.

Two-time NFR qualifier Clifton Smith of Childress, who recently was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall Of Fame in Fort Worth, dismounted from the right side of his horse to shave off the extra time at the 1960 Finals and changed the sport.

“I was the first calf roper to get off of the right side of a horse at the National Finals Rodeo,” Smith said. “There had never been anyone who had gotten off of the right until 1960.”

As the years passed, Smith witnessed an increasing number of ropers dismounting from the right side. Smith said he noticed a huge difference when he competed at the 1987 San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo.

“As time went on, they started getting off to the right more and more and more,” he said. “Now, they all get off to the right unless you’re a left handed roper.”

Smith estimated that a right handed roper can save between two to four tenths of second by getting off to the right instead of the left.

Smith’s innovative method of getting off to the right side helped him turn in faster times.

Smith was inducted to the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall Of Fame in the Fort Worth Stockyards’ Cowtown Coliseum April 6.

Smith also has a remarkable legacy of producing multiple offspring who have been successful competitors.

Smith, 85, is the father of 2008 PRCA world champion tie-down roper Stran Smith of Childress and Smitty Smith who also was a prize winning competitor. He is a grandfather of 2017 world all-around champion Tuf Cooper of Decatur.

Smith also is a grandfather of Shada Brazile who qualified for the 2013 National Finals in barrel racing. She’s married to the legendary Trevor Brazile and they live in Decatur.

Smith, and his wife, Judy, also have two other grandchildren who have qualified for the NFR in tie-down roping – Stetson Vest of Childress and Clif Cooper of Decatur.

Today, Smith relishes watching them compete.

“When I got to where I couldn’t do it, I enjoyed watching them do it even as much or more than I did doing it myself,” he said. “They’ve just carried on. They’ve picked up the baton and kept going with it.”


Four-time world champion Tuf Cooper clinched the tie-down roping title at the Clark County Fair & Rodeo in Logandale, Nev., and earned $6,365.

Cooper turned in a time of 8.4 seconds Sunday to win the title. He had a three-run time of 27.6 seconds.

In bull riding, Stetson Wright of Beaver, Utah, clinched the title. Wright won the first round after scoring 87 points. That qualified him for the final round where he again won first place, this time with an 87. He finished with a two-ride score of 174 and earned $5,884.


On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, Cody Teel of Kountze clinched the title Unleash The Beast tour stop in Billings, Mont. over the weekend.

Teel’s second victory of the season earned him $42,350.

Though he made a qualified ride on only one bull in Billings, an 86.25 point effort in the third round, Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, leads the world title race with 2,556.6 points. Chase Outlaw is second with 2,307.5. Joao Ricardo Vieira, another Brazilian who lives in Decatur, is third with 2,280. Vieira finished third in Billings.


After competing in the Howard College Rodeo in Big Spring, Clarendon College is second in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region’s 2018-2019 men’s team title race with 3,330 points.

In the Southwest Region women’s team standings, Tarleton leads with 2,621 points. Weatherford College is second with 1,827.5 and South Plains third with 1,777.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

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