Another Canadian makes an appearance on Haulin' today! Amanda Smith is a consummate competitor, and the pairing of Amanda and her great gelding, I'm Short And Smooth, is always one of my favourite's to watch. Currently hauling in the NCHA 25,000 Novice Horse Non Pro, the pair are sitting 9th with $12,981 won in 24 shows. Since Amanda and I sat down for this interview she has headed South, making appearances in Arizona and Waco, and is well on her way to making NCHA World Finals. No stranger to success in Fort Worth, having also made World Finals in 2014, we chat with Amanda about the ups and downs of hauling, living in the moment and her beloved horse, Fred.
Im Short And Smooth and Amanda Smith competing at the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity. Photo Credit: James Hudyma.
Tell me about your horse...
Im Short And Smooth is a 10yr old gelding by Smooth As A Cat out of Chiquita Shorty (Shorty Lena). His barn name is Fred, or Freddie, or Fast Freddie! Tell me a little bit about their personality? Fred is super quirky, & big on personality. I could write a book….
I know this horse inside & out. He’s nervous, spooky, doesn’t handle change very well. Doesn’t like being by himself. He’s fast, a smidge wild & a powerhouse, which for me can be a challenge to ride. He won’t load in the trailer unless there’s another horse already in there. He loves his food. If you’re a few minutes late with his breakfast, he doesn’t kick or paw, but he’ll stand there sticking his tongue in & out of the side of his mouth until there’s white foamy slobber dripping down the side of his mouth, I really need to get a video of it, it’s pretty comical. He loves to be loved on, and truly is a sweet guy. What is your favourite thing about your pony?
That I’m his person! I have a real soft spot for Fred & I think he does for me too. How long have you had your horse and how did they come into your life?
We bought him in 2014. Darcy was looking for another horse to show in the NP. He had some success on him, but it wasn’t consistent. In all fairness to him we took him from an aged event training program to becoming a weekend warrior overnight, and it was too much for him to handle at the time.
Michael Cooper originally trained Fred. Both Michael & his owner, Gary, showed him with lots of success.
Describe their style in the show pen?
I’m not sure. There are some days where it seems like The Fast & The Furious though. What class(es) do you show in?
Non Pro & $25,000 NH NP
I showed Fred in both classes this year. I also showed Hoo Doo Hughes (Sammy) at the beginning of the year in the Non Pro & at a couple of shows during the summer when Darcy wasn’t able to show. If you show in more than one, do you find one harder than the other?
I don’t necessarily find one harder, however I do find that I show better in my 2nd class on the first day. I’m sure it’s mostly nerves on my part.
Photo Credit: Roughstock Studios
Leading up to this year, what was your biggest accomplishment or favourite moment in the cutting pen?
Winning the 2011 NCHA Western National’s in the $15,000NHNP & Reserve in the Non Pro on Whirl N Play.
Also, winning the Non Pro in Canada in 2016 on Karats N Oaks Cat (with a little help from Im Short And Smooth & Hoo Doo Hughes) When you think of one horse that defines your career in the pen, what horse is it, and why did you pick them?
Whirl N Play. I loved showing her & she loved being in the show pen. She always gave me 110%. She gave me so much confidence. We were fearless. Whirl is very special! When you started out the year, what were your goals? Was it always to make world finals?
Yes it was to always make the world finals, that was my BIG goal. My main goal was to be consistent.
Once the show season started at home, I added to my goal list, I wanted to win Canada & Alberta in both the Non Pro & $25NH NP. I put a lot on my plate, but I was hungry for it all.
Is this the first time you are going to be headed to world finals? If not, what other years did you qualify and in what classes?
I actually qualified in 2014 in the $15NH NP on Karats N Oaks Cat. Do you ride with a trainer, if so, who?
Dustin Gonnet. I keep Fred at home, mostly keep him legged up, and Dustin schools him for me at the shows. It’s worked really well for us this year. Dustin’s been a crucial part of my success, I couldn’t have done it without him that’s for sure! I also rode with Eric Wisehart when I went to CA in February. He was kind enough to let me tag along with his crew to a few shows & school my horses. I learned so much from him. What is the best advice your trainer has ever given you? Is there something they tell you a lot?
The best advice came from Dustin a couple of years ago at the Ponoka fall show. I was hauling in the NP for Canada, and my horse came up sore. So Darcy told me to go show his 4yr old. I don’t show a lot of young horses so to say the least I was extremely nervous. Dustin pulled me aside & told me “It’s just you, your horse & the cow, nothing else matters”. It stuck with me, I repeat it to myself every time I walk to the herd.
And then there’s the never-ending….relax, sit, & push on your horn, lol! You’d think I’d have those figured out by now, but it’s so hard to do lol. What has been the highlight of your year so far? Winning both Alberta & Canada in the Non Pro & $25,000 NH NP. This is a huge feat for Fred & I, we hadn’t been the most consistent team up until this year. I’m super proud of Fred.
Have you had a low point?
I sure did. Over the summer I was really struggling with getting through a run. Whether it was missing cuts, losing cows or just not getting my horse shown well, it was taking a toll on me mentally.
How did you get through it?
After the show in Estevan, Saskatchewan I think I had 2 weeks off before Ponoka, Alberta. I just took a few days off from it all. I gave Fred some time off. I listened to some sports phychology podcasts & audible books while I did my yard work, I enjoyed my time at home. And I reminded myself how fortunate I was to have this opportunity to go do what I love. Once I got the monkey off my back & had everything back into perspective I went into Ponoka refreshed & had a pretty good show.
Do you get nerves/anxiety in the show pen?
I always get a little anxiety /nervousness, some runs more than others. If so, how do you deal with them?
I just go through my regular routine. The biggest thing, is when I’m cinching up, taking out my tail, I fix Fred’s forelock tell him “let’s be good, we’ve got this” and give him a kiss. I do it with all our horses. For some reason takes a bit of the nervousness away for me.
Photo Credit: R Magrath
What is one thing that you think you’ve conquered, or gotten a lot better at, this year?
Enjoying it, enjoying all of it! In the past I would always treat it as a job, and be so serious & uptight about every little thing, that I would forget to enjoy all the amazing experiences, and I’ve had some great ones. What’s your best tip for balancing real life with hauling?
Being organized & having great support at home. I’m extremely lucky to have the support that I have from Darcy. What could you not live without at a cutting?
Maybe not so much at a cutting, but getting to a cutting…I have to have my energy drinks. Monster Ultra Violet is what gets me to & from. I do a lot of driving, with my closest show being 6hrs away. I don’t know if I’d survive some of the hauls without them. What’s your number one tip for hauling down the road?
Be prepared for everything. Have your vet box stocked up. Have blankets for every season. Have extra of everything. Darcy just shakes his head at me, I might overdo it on the packing. Have you had to haul pretty hard this year?
I went to California, Arizona & Nevada for the month of February, I went to 4 shows down there. Then we sat at home for 7 weeks until the shows up here started. I went to all the Alberta shows except for the first one due to a snow storm. Went to 1 show in BC & 3 in Saskatchewan as well. I’m headed back down south in bit to hit a couple more shows to hopefully help me stay in the top 15. What is your favourite show to haul too, and why?
This year in Canada it would be Black Elk Cutting Classic in Ponoka, AB. It’s my closest show to haul to (6hrs), it’s a really well run show, great facility, Saturday evening dinner /social, plus they put up a lot of added money.
In the US it would be Queen Creek, AZ. It’s very competitive, but there’s a real comfortable, relaxed & fun vibe to it. You can’t beat the weather, facility or the people either. Have you had an embarrassing moment in the show pen this year?
Oh boy…I sure did. I was at a show in Quesnel, BC. I’m not sure which class it was in, but I could not get a cow cut to save my life, I missed 3 cuts in a row until I finally walked out of the pen, with no fault to my horse, my help, or the cattle, it was all me. All I could do was roll my eyes, shake my head & try to regroup. Darcy & I got a pretty good laugh about it afterwards. Looking towards world finals, what are you most excited about?
As of right now I’m sitting 9th in the standings, there’s a lot of shows left, so it’s not a guarantee that I’m in. In saying that, I’m headed to 3 shows down south in hopes to win a bit more money & stay in the top 15. So I will be super excited if I make it. It’s really exciting to see so many Canadians are in the standings this year! It’ll be fun to root everyone on. What do you plan to show in next year?
As of right now, I’m not planning on showing too much next year. Would like to spend some time at home. I say that now, but ask me in a couple of months and that might all have changed.