Women’s Professional Rodeo Association 2017 Rookie of the Year Taci Bettis explains why “Smash” is her once-in-a-lifetime horse.
Interview by Blanche Schaefer. Originally published in the March 2018 issue of Barrel Horse News
Getting to Know Smash
“He is a do-his-own-thing kind of horse. He doesn’t really like to be touched or loved—it has to be his idea that he wants to be loved on. He’s not mean or anything, but he’s going to do his thing and you do yours.”
“He would definitely be The Rock (Dwayne Johnson). When you watch those movies with him, he’s so powerful, and when I look at Smash, he’s a huge horse, just a tank. Everything about him is big—his head and feet and body, and everything is like The Rock.”
“I think every good horse is going to have quirks. Sometimes it drives me up the wall, you know if the wind’s blowing or if it’s a little cold, you can walk up to his pen and have the halter and if he goes to snorting, you already know it’s going to be a long ride. Some days, he can outsmart me and have the day off if I wasn’t planning on it. If he’s going to snort, I just go on and let him have that day, because if it’s his idea to be quirky and snorty, it’s going to be that day.
When you tie him to the trailer and go to tighten him up, he wants to be jumpy and quirky, and it’s not every day and it’s not every time, and actually the older he gets, the more easy-going he’s getting.”
A Day in the Life
“I turn him out in a big open pasture. I don’t like my horses to be stalled. I like them to be out and just be a horse. I feed in the mornings and then let them out and go on with my day, and as we’re speaking right now I’ve called them up and am getting ready to ride.”
Workouts and Training
“I don’t really do the barrels at all, and I do tons of pasture riding and arena riding—long trotting, loping to get their air up. I ride Smash up and down a steep hill to build up his back end so it’s as strong as it can be. When it comes closer to rodeo time I’ll do the barrels, or if he did bad the last run and I need to work on something I’ll do that, but I really do a lot of pasture riding.”
Why Smash is Special
“Obviously every girl thinks her horse is the greatest, and I’m not going to compare him to anything, but I will say that every run he gives me, he gives me everything he has. He has the heart, the try, and the grit, and you can’t ask for anything more when they give you something like that. I feel it in him. He gives me everything, every single run. He’s staring at me as we’re talking, actually.”
“I took a break from riding, got married and finished school. I wasn’t riding good, and then I got him and he just tried. I took it really slow. Each year, it was progressing more and more as my nerves would build up. I got him in 2013, and 2015 is when I started winning a lot, and I won two American Quarter Horse Association world titles in the same week, and I think that’s when it hit me that I had the real deal. He got hurt and I had to get off him, but about two years later, it was riding every single day, just putting in that time and building that connection that we have, that’s when I thought, ‘Man, I might have the real deal.’ I got my [WPRA] card in 2017 and was just going to see, but I didn’t really know. It was every girl’s dream to make the NFR obviously, and I’m not saying I didn’t think I had the caliber of horse, but that’s a whole different mentality to make the NFR your first year. As we were getting closer and closer to the end of the season, I’m like ‘Wow, I really do have the real deal.’ He won’t go anywhere that’s for sure; he’ll retire right here.”