Setbacks keep a cowgirl’s adrenalin building going harder looking to winning the next rodeo.
Kamryn Smith of Linn has been a cowgirl ever since she can remember with a fair share of horse competition successes.
“I started entering local horse shows on my pony, Sweetheart, and moved on to rodeo events,” Kamryn reflected. “I’ve been competing at jackpots and open rodeos as well as junior and high school rodeos.”
Recently graduating from Linn High School, Kamryn, 18, will be on the rodeo team at Colby Community College this fall.
“I’ve had a great career in both the Kansas Junior High and Senior High School Rodeo Associations,” she said.
Ranking in the top ten in three events for her three-year junior high career, Kamryn did best in pole bending. “I was sixth as an eighth grader just missing national qualification,” the cowgirl tallied.
Also in barrel racing and ribbon roping, Kamryn’s calf partner was Reed Murray.
All-around cowgirl would best describe Kamryn’s high school rodeo successes. “I started out in pole bending and barrel racing, and then started breakaway roping as a sophomore,” Kamryn remembered.
Placing in the rodeos throughout the state, she was just out of national qualification in pole bending as a junior.
Team roping was added to the rodeo repertoire this past senior year collecting checks routinely with Kyleigh Winn as her partner.
“My best event this season was pole bending,” Kamryn pointed out. “I was having good runs all fall and into the spring in the top five standings.”
Heartbreak came when her outstanding 12-year-old gray Quarter Horse pole bending gelding Zane passed away suddenly. “He had been doing so well and then wasn’t acting quite right. We weren’t even able to get Zane in for treatment,” Kamryn sadly explained.
The tragic loss was devastating to Kamryn and her family who’d done all training of the horse since a weanling.
“We were all so upset we really didn’t know what to do,” the cowgirl acknowledged. “Our points at that time looked like we might be able to qualify for the National High School Rodeo Finals.
“We have top several horses at our RK Stables, but none with the pole bending ability Zane had,” she continued.
Cowgirl-way showed through when Kamryn decided to give it her best shot forward to still make national qualification.
“I borrowed others’ pole horses some, and finally decided to ride younger horses for experience on the road,” Kamryn said. “Then for the state finals I was able to ride a pole bending horse that’d we’d trained and sold. He’s bred similar to Zane so I thought that could get me to be in the top five.”
Still when final tabulations were posted, Kamryn was top ten in pole bending, shy of hopeful expectations.
“I was really disappointed, but that’s the way it is with horses and rodeos,” she admitted. “There’s always another rodeo or jackpot, and I plan to win the next one. The future is ahead of me and we have several top prospects in training with potential to match Zane’s ability.
“I’m already successfully showing a couple of those horses that are similarly bred like Zane in several events. I’m really fortunate my dad Ron and mom Kami are so great at training and developing young horses,” Kamryn appreciated.
Horses are not the complete life for the cowgirl. “I was in 4-H until high school and then I joined FFA,” she said. “I was a 4-H officer and have been an FFA leader three years the president as a senior.”
Excelling in athletics, Kamryn an honor student has also participated successfully in a variety of 4-H and FFA activities. “Our Linn FFA Chapter won the Kansas Land Judging Contest last year,” she noted. “That qualified us and we competed in the national competition at Oklahoma City.”
What makes her success even more meaningful is that her dad is her basketball coach and FFA advisor.
“I’m fortunate for all that Dad does for me personally, the vo-ag department, the school and the community,” Kamryn credited. “He even does all the shoeing of our horses and for others too. There’s not anything Dad can’t do.”
Not only are her parents’ horse and rodeo talented but it runs through her family grandparents and siblings.
“My older sisters Kaylee and Karsyn and my brother Kolton have all been successful in rodeo competition,” Kamryn said. “They’ve earned college rodeo scholarships and competed at that level too. Now my nephew Kaylee’s son Kaylor is really into riding, roping and showing. He’s even tried to take my rope horse.”
College bound this week, Kamryn will be competing in team roping there. “The scholarship covers books, tuition and stabling for my head horse Rita although I’ll be responsible for feeding,” she said. “I’ll also be taking one of our younger horses to continue developing for roping and experience.”
A dual curriculum is on her agenda. “Of course, I want to study equine science and also take the physical therapy courses,” Kamryn said. “My mom and my sister Kaylee are both registered nurses at the Clay Center hospital. They’ve been my inspiration to be in a health field profession and help others any way I can.”
Following education at Colby, the cowgirl looks to put her physical therapy training to use. “I could continue schooling, but right now I think I’ll try to work at a private practice or a hospital.
“I really see potential to involve horses in so much of physical therapy,” Kamryn noted. “I expect to incorporate horses into my profession as I go along.
“Horses and rodeo will always be an important part of my life, whatever direction it takes,” the optimistic cowgirl summarized.