story by Lindsay Humphrey As a first-generation rodeo athlete, Abree Ensey and her 16-year-old sister, Paige, are figuring things out as they go along. They […]
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Meet the Member Kacen Smith
story by Lily Weinacht
Kacen Smith of Newton, Kansas, checked off both his rodeo goals for the 2018/2019 season after many months of hard work leading up to state finals and the NJHFR. The 14-year-old won state in both chute dogging and bareback steer riding, also qualifying for Nationals in goat tying and team roping with Mason Stueve. When the season started, he says he knew he had a good chance to qualify in the bareback steer riding and team roping. But he was surprised by just how successful state turned out.
With 11 buckles to his name from state finals alone, Kacen went to Huron, South Dakota, for his second NJHFR, his parents, Kirby and Joni, and brothers, Koy and Kreed, cheering him on. “It went pretty good. I ended up 12th in the team roping with Mason Stueve, 10th in goats, and 15th in the bareback,” says Kacen. “We also went to the water park they have there in Huron, and met some new friends and talked to friends from last year. My favorite part was just being able to get up every day and be with other people who rodeo like I do, and to go and compete every day as well.
“I love the competition and the atmosphere that rodeo has. And I also just like being able to look back at the past and see how I did and improved, and also my goals for the future,” says Kacen. He fulfilled his goals of qualifying for Nationals and finishing in the top ten in one of his events, while he also competed in junior high rodeos in breakaway roping. This fall, he’s transitioning to tie-down roping in high school rodeo, as well as continuing to team rope. Steer wrestling is also on the agenda his sophomore year, and he’s considering bareback riding down the road as well. “My favorite event is definitely team roping. I just like when you can watch a team that’s been together a long time and they can be fast.” He’d love to spend a day watching Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira rope. “It would be fun to see them rope in person, and learn from them.”
Kacen learned to rope from his dad, who pro rodeoed for a time and continues to enter team ropings. He and Kacen enjoy roping together, while Kacen also practices roping with his brothers, Koy (12), who competes in the KJHSRA, and Kreed (9), who does junior rodeos. “We have a friend named Doug Taylor who’s been around since I started rodeoing. He’s been there to support me, and taught me and helped keep me going,” says Kacen. “My mom and my brothers help with chutes, and Doug comes to all of our practices.”
His tie-down and team roping horse, Milo, came from one of Kacen’s great uncles, and Kacen and his dad trained him for roping. His former goat tying horse, Lewis, came from another rodeo family, and the Smiths trained him for goats, which he’ll continue to do with Kacen’s younger brothers. “We have a couple colts we’re riding right now, and one is a half brother to my team roping horse.”
Kacen will also be a freshman this fall at Goessel High School, where he plans to play football, basketball, and run track. “In football, we lift weights, and I think that helps me with tie-down roping and steer wrestling, and it also keeps me in shape year round,” says Kacen. “This next year my goal is to qualify for High School Nationals as a freshman.”