Meet the Rodeo Company Rockin’ K Rodeo
story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
story by Lindsay Whelchel
It was a chance discovery, Lauren Smith’s mom driving by a stable that offered riding lessons when Lauren was 9, that would change the Charlotte, North Carolina cowgirl’s life forever.
No one in Lauren’s family rodeoed, but when Lauren’s mom dropped her and her sister off at that barn, the love of horses stuck.
Lauren started out riding Western Pleasure, and English, Hunter Under Saddle classes, but she saw a rodeo near her home and fell in love with the sport of barrel racing at the age of 12 and never looked back.
Now 25, Lauren began her barrel racing career going to jackpots but bought her IPRA card in 2012 and now spends her time on the rodeo road.
“Rodeo to me is a lot more exciting. I love traveling and seeing new places, so that aspect is great,” Lauren says and adds, “as a sport it’s definitely humbling, and there’s always good times and bad times, but I feel like rodeo is a family. Whenever you need someone, someone is going to be there for you. Everyone sticks together.”
Lauren no doubt credits the support and prayers she received after a serious horse accident in May of 2015. She doesn’t remember what happened, just that she was in the pasture and must’ve been run over after a horse spooked ending up in the hospital.
“It was pretty frightening. It took me a little bit to get over it, but more to me, when I got out it was me asking my doctors, ‘when can I ride?’ I was ready to get back on a horse and go,” she laughs but seriously gives credit her main mare for helping rebuild her confidence. “I only had her for a couple months when my accident happened, but I trust her so much so I don’t think that it would have been as easy with a different horse.”
Lauren also credits her traveling partner Jessi Proctor with making the rodeo life so enjoyable. “Having a good traveling partner is a lot of it. It helps out a lot,” she says.
Also making this life possible is Lauren’s family, her sponsor A Perfect Touch Massage Therapy who keeps her horses feeling good, and her vet at Statesville Equine.
Overall, Lauren just tries to always look on the bright side and go with the flow. Her nickname is Smiley because she always has a smile on her face and tries to make the best of any situation.
This year she’s doing well in the standings and has a shot at her first International Finals Rodeo qualification, but in typical fashion she’s just going with the flow, having fun and trying not to put too much pressure on herself.
“It’s on the back of my mind, but I just try to go out there and go to rodeos and have fun and not worry about the standings. Wherever I’m supposed to be at the end of the year, that’s how it’s going to happen.”
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