By Ted Harbin
Over the last 40 years, Cindy Smith has made dozens of runs inside Jake McClure Arena, but her best was last week during her hometown rodeo, the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
On the second night of the event in Lovington, New Mexico, Smith rounded the cloverleaf pattern inside the large arena in 17.37 seconds, then hung on through the final two nights of the rodeo to earn the title and $4,061. She also gained valuable ProRodeo Tour points as she tries to move into the top 24 as of Sept. 3 to qualify for the Finale in Puyallup, Wash.
“I’ve only been on her four times in that arena, but I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve run there,” said Smith, a WPRA gold card member from Lovington. “Some years I’ve been running six head.”
The she is Wood B Asmokinbarbie, a 7-year-old, homegrown mare by Woodbridge out of Smokin Shuttle that Smith calls Barbie.
“Every five years, I’ve had something to go try,” she said. “What I’m finding out is that she’s got some extra speed. As we’re doing this, she’s got speed that really helps her out. She runs hard and drags her butt like a calf horse.”
The win moved Smith up to third in the Turquoise Circuit standings and to 37th in the WPRA ProRodeo World Standings. She left New Mexico shortly after the rodeo and is competing in the Northwest. Is there time to make a run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo? She’s going to ride out this season and see where she lands.
She knows the game better than most. She’s been around the WPRA most of her life; in fact, her card number is in the single digits. She (Cindy Witcher) qualified for the NFR in 1976 alongside her mother, Marion Gramith. That experience comes in handy these days as she rides the young mare across the country.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Smith said. “There are so many tough horses. There are some horses that on any given day, you could break an arena record, and they’ll come right behind you and bust it again.”
That’s just part of the game she loves and why she’s enjoying everything about this season with Barbie.
ProRodeo Tour (Barrels) - 1st Go
1. Cindy Smith 17.370 $4,060.98
2. Shali Lord 17.390 $3,248.79
3. Ericka Nelson 17.500 $2,639.64
4. Kassidy Dennison 17.620 $2,030.49
5. Lori Todd 17.630 $1,624.39
6. Emily Miller 17.640 $1,049.08
6. Leia Pluemer 17.640 $1,049.08
6. Jill Wilson 17.640 $1,049.08
9. Jana Bean 17.660 $812.19
10. Ivy Conrado 17.720 $659.90
10. Sidney Forrest 17.720 $659.90
12. Jill Tanner 17.730 $507.62
13. Tammy Fischer 17.760 $406.09
14. Jamie Wilson 17.860 $253.80
14. Geneva Kelly 17.860 $253.80