Since they were young buckaroos, they’ve watch the legends make their way to the National Finals, dreaming of having the opportunity to someday compete for a world championship. Now, two young cowboys have roped their way into making their dreams into a reality.

Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, Ryle Smith was the champion. He won second at Rodeo Houston winning over $27,000. The Oakdale calf roper won a round at the Calgary Stampede. At the California Circuit Finals, they crowned him king of the Calf Roping and the All-Around Champion. And now, Smith is seated 12th with over $65,000 won in tie-down roping as he heads to his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. 

Although he has had a successful year, Smith was dealt a few bad cards that challenged his year as he strived to rise to the top. This summer a freak accident caused his horse to injure out for a month. He not only had to borrow a horse, but of course in the same time frame another issue occurred. With all the miles and hours of wear and tear on a vehicle, he began to experience truck issues. Although these were definitely stressful times, they didn’t keep Smith from trucking on to the next rodeo. He’s proved that through hard work and dedication, dreams will come true.

“I’ve calf roped since I was 13, I love it. I feel like I continue to get better the more I rope and that’s what motivated me to continue.”

How do you feel about making your first NFR?

Excited, and really happy to have the opportunity. Its been a life long dream of mine and really, the ultimate goal for me since I started roping professionally. 

Do you have a game plan going into your first round of the NFR?

I’m going to be third out, I’m going to ride my horse and because we get to break the calves in prior to the Finals I will be able to get a feel for what they will be like. I just want to rope to the best of my ability and to rope the way I know I can. I’m not really trying to drastically change my current routine, just do what got me there.

Who or what inspires you?

California calf ropers and cowboys inspire me, guys like Johnny Jones and Tom Ferguson – these were the guys that I looked up to when I was growing up. But, some of my biggest inspirations have been in my family, my grandpa, my dad, my uncle, and Ed Hirdes (my sister is married to his son).


Ryle Smith, many time California Circuit Finals tie-down roping champion, has punched his ticket to his first WNFR. (Kirt Steinke Photo)

– – – – – – –

This year Cody Snow won over six California rodeo championships. From Oakdale to City of Industry, he’s dominated the team roping. From Preston, ID to Deadwood, SD, no matter how far he travels, you will hear his name at the top of the leader board. The 20-year old Los Olivos cowboy fell short last year, placing in the 20th spot for the world standings. But this year, with over $69,000 won and 10th in the world standings, Snow will be turning steers at his first Wrangler National Finals. 

How does it feel to qualify for your first National Finals?

I’m pumped about it. I’ve always wanted to be here since I was a little kid, so it’s pretty awesome to achieve that goal.

What’s your favorite rodeo and why?

My favorite rodeo is San Antonio because there are no fees and it pays so well.

Favorite win this year?

My favorite win this year is probably winning the second round at Pendleton because that was a much needed win that time of year.

Tell me about the horse you will be riding at the NFR.

I am going to ride my buckskin mare, Annie who is eight years old. I bought her as a 4-year-old and trained her myself. 

We are proud of you cowboys! You represent California well! 


Cody Snow and Dugan Kelly split the second round at Pendleton this year and that win of $4,064 helped ensure the team a trip to the 2016 WNFR. This will be Cody’s first trip. (Kirt Steinke Photo)

The author of the blog, California Dreamin’ (www.calidreamin.com), Amy Witt’s articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world. A fashionista, cowgirl and journalist, Amy strives to motivate and inspire people around the world.

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