Ridin’ the dream

Courtesy of Jennings Photography
Garrett Smith from Rexburg rides a bull at the 2012 National High School Rodeo finals in Casper, Wyo. In high school, Garrett won the all-around cowboy title three times. This week, he's competing in the War Bonnet Roundup in Idaho Falls. (CHECK FOR UPDATE)

Courtesy of James Fain Photography
Rexburg cowboy Garrett Smith rides a bull at the 2013 Rocky Mountain Professional Rodeo Finals in Fairview, Utah. Smith is competing (UPDATE TO DOUBLE CHECK) in this year's War Bonnet Roundup that opened Thursday and runs through Saturday in Idaho Falls.

Riding bulls on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit has been a lifelong goal for Rexburg cowboy Garrett Smith.

“This is like a dream come true. I’m living the dream right now,” Smith said.

In his second year as a pro, Smith is looking forward to riding in the War Bonnet Roundup this week in front of an eastern Idaho crowd.

“I didn’t ride in the War Bonnet last year and I’m excited to be riding close to home this year,” he said. “The local crowd is very supportive.”

Smith rides in about 120 rodeos a year across the country. A big leap for a cowboy who is just 19.

“It’s quite the experience,” he said. “It used to be I would ride in one or two rodeos and then come back to Rexburg and regroup, but now I don’t know when I will see home again.”

Life on the road has been everything Smith thought it would be and more. The biggest thrill is to travel and be around riders he has idolized for years such as PRCA cowboy Cody Teel and J.W. Harris, who rides on the Professional Bull Riders circuit. Not only has Smith had the opportunity to be around them, but they have given him a hand as well. Hed described the experience as “life-changing.”

“They have been a huge help; they have traveled with me and I’ve gotten to know them too,” Smith said. “It’s been amazing to ride with this group that I’ve looked up to my whole life.”

The Smith family has a long history in rodeo. Garrett’s dad, Lynn, and mom, Valorie, rodeoed growing up. As adults, Lynn Smith was a pick-up man for the Hoggan Rodeo Co. and Valorie was a timer for years.

Crystal Carpenter, who handles the books and public relations for Hoggan Rodeo in Hamer, said the Smiths are considered part of the Hoggan family. Lynn and Valorie’s sons, Wyatt, Garrett and Payson worked at Hoggan rodeos too, sorting cattle, cooling off horses, participating in the parades and as all-around hands where needed.

“When the boys started following their rodeo dreams, Lynn and Valorie stepped up and made sure they were able to fulfill them. Garrett and Wyatt are amazing young men with a lot of heart and try, and Payson is following in their footsteps,” Carpenter said. “Hoggan Rodeo is proud to call them part of the family.”

As of July 8, Garrett Smith’s older brother Wyatt was seventh in bulldogging in the PRCA world standings, Garrett said.

Younger brother, Payson, who just finished his freshman year at Madison High School, qualified for the national high school rodeo finals earlier this month in Rock Springs, Wyo.

All three Smith boys have ridden all their lives and competed in nearly every event in high school rodeo, Garrett Smith said. He rode in every event except bareback and has won the national high school all-around title three times, he said.

“We’ve been doing all the rodeo events since we were little,” he said. “We all thought doing just one event would be way to boring, so we did them all.”

The family keeps lots of rodeo stock around so all the boys can practice riding actual stock.

“We have some roping steers and bucking horses at home,” he said. “We keep plenty of stock around to practice on,” he said.

Smith’s next goal is to be in the top 15 cowboys to quality for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and more.

“I hope to be an NFR world champion one day.” he said.