SJR Smooth Cowgirl isn’t a brawny horse, but owner Barney Mac Smith said the roan mare more than makes up for it with grit.
Three cows tried to get the better of the daughter of Smooth As A Cat, but she and Smith fought them off to earn a 218 and take the Augusta Futurity Unlimited Amateur Championship Saturday night in Augusta, Georgia.
“We cut three good cows that really tested this mare and she proved how gritty she is; just the integrity of this mare compared to a lot of them,” he said. “There’s a lot of horses stronger and more athletic and physical than her, but if they had the integrity and the want-to that she does, they’d be phenomenal. She just tries so hard.”
Their score was eight points better than Reserve Champions Dennis Levering and Whiskey Drinkin Girl. Smith took home the $2,500 winner’s share of the purse.
The Augusta Futurity was “Cowgirl’s” first show back after the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity, where she and Smith won $9,462 for finishing seventh in the Unlimited Amateur.
“I try to work hard at what I do in this and devote a lot of time to it, so it’s rewarding to see it actually pay off,” he said, of the win in Augusta. “My parents help me so much and I can’t thank them enough for helping me do i. I love what I do.”
Smith bought the San Juan Ranch-bred daughter of CR Roan Ranger (by Hes A Peptospoonful) as a yearling. He consigned her to the sales the following year, but kept her when she didn’t meet her reserve and put her into training under the guidance of cutting’s all-time leading rider, Equi-Stat Elite $9 Million Rider Phil Rapp.
“This is the first one I ever got trained by myself,” Smith said. “Phil’s helped me finish her.”
Smith said Rapp and his wife, Equi-Stat Elite $4 Million Rider Mary Ann, have been very influential throughout his career. His business is buying and selling horses. It’s a far cry from his younger days living the city life in Orlando, Florida.
He wasn’t exposed to horses until the eighth grade when his parents, Steve and Jan Smith, moved Smith and his five siblings to Texas. Cutting came later, when his father’s retirement party was held at Punk Carter’s ranch in 2010. He was eager to learn about the sport, first from Carter and then from Phil and Mary Ann.
“I went to a year of college and then stayed at Punk’s that whole summer and then got hooked up with Phil and stayed there a bit of that summer and every summer through college,” he said. “I stayed at Phil’s for three summers there and graduated in 2014 from Texas Tech and I’ve been hanging around Phil’s since then.”
In spite of Rapp’s success in the saddle, Smith said his mentor advised against going into the business as a professional horse trainer.
“He told me I didn’t want to train horses — get a business degree and get a job and just ride for fun – and that was seven years ago,” he said.
So far Smith has followed Rapp’s advice, which has allowed him to spend a lot of time riding his horses each day and live the cutting-oriented lifestyle he wanted. He’s going to keep trucking along with his horse business, but said the jury is out whether he’ll always follow Rapp’s instructions to avoid going pro.
“Phil says you don’t want to be a horse trainer or do this and that, but I really love the horses so who knows,” Smith said. “I can’t say yay or nay.”
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