Rylee Howton and her horses are a walking advertisement for 5 Star Equine products. The Three Rivers, Texas cowgirl is in love with the 5 […]
Featured Athlete: Jimmie Smith
Written by: Ruth Nicolaus< Back to Articles
Jimmie Smith is the 2019 Texas Circuit champion barrel racer and the 2018 WPRA Resistol Rookie of the Year. The McDade, Texas cowgirl won all her Texas money on a special horse, a ten-year-old mare, LenaOnTheRocks, “Lena.”
The mare, a palomino, loves the winter rodeos, and she and her rider did well in 2019, finishing third at Ft. Worth, San Angelo and Corpus Christi, and making the finals at Houston and San Antonio.
At that point, Jimmie was sitting in the top ten in the WPRA barrel racing world standings, and they hit the road hard.
But after Calgary, in July, Jimmie knew something was wrong with her partner. It was nothing major, but she didn’t want Lena’s soundness to be jeopardized.
“I could have kept running her,” she said. “She was never lame and never took a lame step. I could just tell something was off. If I had ignored it and kept on running, we maybe would have made the (National) Finals. But I also maybe wouldn’t have her running as strong as she is now.”
The horse is out of Tourlena by FirewaterOnTheRocks. Jimmie purchased her as a five year old from Cindy Skinner. Susie Campbell had started her on the barrels, and Jimmie filled her permit on Lena in October of 2017.
The horse is tiny but thick and strong, and a “total princess,” she said. “She knows that I love her, and we just have that special bond. She knows she gets treats before and after she runs. She just loves being pampered.”
Jimmie, who is 23 years old, made the Texas High School Finals all four years of high school. In college at Texas A&M, she earned a bachelors degree in communications and journalism. She qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo three times in three events: the barrels, the breakaway, and the goat tying.
When Lena was out of commission last year, Jimmie rode several backup horses, all of them leased. It was not ideal. “It was a pressure situation,” she said. “I knew I had to win money on these horses but had no clue how to ride them.” She kept switching back and forth between them, trying to get with each one, “and it never really clicked.”
By September, Lena was released for competition but Jimmie took it slowly on her, not running her till Thanksgiving.
The wait was worth it. At the Christmas Classic in Alvarado, Texas, she broke the arena record twice. The first time was on Pixie, one of the borrowed horses, with a time of 14.901. The second time was aboard Lena, with a run of 14.894 seconds.
And at the Texas Circuit Finals in January, Lena won second place in the third round for her.
Jimmie is a member of the 5 Star Equine team and loves their products, especially the saddle blankets. All eight of her barrel horses wear the 7/8 barrel racer saddle pad. She has been using it for the past four years, “and I have had no back issues. All my horses stay sound with no soreness in the back.”
The saddle pad wicks away moisture, and is customizable, too. “They’re very pretty,” she said. “I love how pretty they are. You can match them to your personality and customize one for each horse.”
Even though Lena being out for several months last year was hard, Jimmie sees the blessing. “If I had never had to go home (from rodeoing), I would never have had the two backups I have for this year.” She has Pixie and Minnie as her secondary horses. “I’m not stranded this year. I’m not a one-horse show.”
Jimmie is taking this year slow, taking her cues from Lena. “We’re going one run at a time,” she said. She finished as reserve champ in Denver. “We’ll see where it takes us.”