The Cowboy Channel Resistol Rookie Round Up, held April 29-30 at the famed Fort Worth Stockyards, was designed to showcase up-and-coming rodeo athletes by providing a lucrative rookie-only competition covered exclusively on The Cowboy Channel. Louisiana cowgirl Presley Smith and Jerry McGuire, the Myers-bred buckskin sired by the late, great stallion A Smooth Guy, dominated by finishing second in the Resistol Rookie Roundup semifinals with a 13.883, then followed up with the fastest time in the top-four championship round of 13.822 to capture the title and $3,656.
“It was really cool to have a special rodeo for the rookies. It’s such a big deal to have the Resistol Rookie of the Year award, but making an event dedicated just for the rookies was great to be a part of,” said Smith, adding, “I’ve never qualified for The American, but the Rookie Roundup had that feel to it because of having you qualify for it and then work your way through and make it to the four-man Shootout. To put yourself in that head space made it an exciting experience.”
The win was particularly emotional for Smith and her entire family, including parents Rick and Christy, who were on hand for the bittersweet victory.
“Today one year ago we lost my aunt, she had a brain aneurysm and passed away,” related Smith. “I wore purple for her, to honor her memory, I felt her presence there with me. It was really sentimental for us and special that all my family got to be there for this win.”
Smith, who turns 21 in August, says she appreciates running at the famed Northside coliseum in part because of all that the Stockyards district offers visitors, and also because the venue is sacred rodeo ground.
“It’s such an historic place. I’ve run there maybe three or four times over the past five years,” she said. “I ran Jerry McGuire once at the Stockyards back in June or July.”
The Denham Springs, Louisiana, barrel racer says her 8-year-old buckskin actually belongs to her mom and came to the Smith family when he was 3 by way of Tami Semas. He was futuritied by leading rider Dustin Angelle and later rodeo seasoned by Molly Childers.
That rodeo seasoning comes in handy for Smith, who says she doesn’t stress out about rodeo ground a lot because her horse is savvy about standing up.
“He is smart and cautious of ground and takes care of me if he feels anything,” she said. “I have a lot of peace knowing that I’m on a horse that might safety up a little bit rather than fall on me. I do think he kind of likes harder ground. Molly Childers rodeo seasoned him for me and that took a lot of time.”
When interviewed Smith was homeward bound with her mom and her dad, whom she describes as her “right-hand man” for helping her take care of everything. She’s also grateful that her grandparents and boyfriend attend rodeos as often as they can to help and support her. Once back in Denham Springs, some well-deserved R&R is in store for “JM.”
“He’s resting for a couple of weeks then I’ll go to Franklin, Tennessee, and Crossett, Arkansas, because those are circuit rodeos and I’d like to qualify for my circuit finals. That’s about all I’ve got as of now. I promised him a break after the Rookie Roundup so he’s going to get a good one,” Smith said. “This summer I hope to go a little with Sarah Waguespack, she lives about 30 minutes from me.”
As of May 2, Smith ranked No. 2 in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Resistol Rookie standings with $15,556 and explained that the success she’s experienced this year has caused her to shuffle her priorities, at least for the time being.
“I went to school at Southeastern Louisiana University for three years, I had a 4.0 and was ahead of pace to graduate,” she said. “I major in finance. I took this semester off because I was ahead of schedule with school, and he was doing really well. I’m the kind of person that I want to give anything I do 100 percent effort, so I didn’t want to do either school or riding halfway. So, I took time off from school, but I’ll definitely be going back.”
Forsythe Tops Semifinals
Battling it out with Smith was nursing student Hannah Forsythe who topped Round 1 with a 14.03 aboard her palomino speedster Semi Automatic (“Sister”) sired by Sun Frosted Rocket. The team of Forsythe and Sister won two of the three rounds at the Resistol Rookie Challenge, and tied for the fastest run of the weekend, a 13.822. They were a 13.8 in the Shootout round, but sadly tipped a barrel to end up fourth.
“I was super excited about the Rookie Roundup because as rookies we don’t really get into a lot of the limited entry rodeos, so it felt kind of like our own limited rodeo. This was the biggest win I think for me just in the sense of it being televised and very public.”
If anything can be taken away from this story beyond appreciation for the inspiring horses and their talented young jockeys, it’s that with rookie rodeo athletes the support of family as they chase their dreams means everything. Forsythe shared that her dad Danny was diagnosed with cancer just a couple of weeks prior to the Rookie Roundup, but he was there in full support of his daughter.
“It was super special for all of us, for me, my sister Anna Grace and my mom Laura,” said Forsythe.
The only building rodeo Forsythe had run Sister at prior to the Rookie Roundup was Jackson, Mississippi, earlier this season.
“I was anxious to see how she’d handle Fort Worth,” said Forsythe. “I took her to Northside the week before and went blowing by first. I went there knowing she’d do okay, but I honestly didn’t expect that. All I know is she tries really hard.”
Sister is out of Katys Luck, an APHA mare that Forsythe recalls Cierra (Chapman) Nelson having success with in the junior rodeo ranks.
“Trevor and Cierra Nelson had Sister. Cierra had a horse she wanted me to try a few years back and I never went and tried it, but I regretted it so bad that I didn’t try the horse,” said Forsythe. “About a year ago I sold a young horse and was looking for something not finished, but something to take and run and season, so I called Cierra and asked if she had anything. She said, ‘Not really, but kind of,’ so we made arrangements and I tried Sister right away. I loped through, stepped off and said I wanted her. I think it was just her try that impressed me right off the bat, she’s gorgeous to look at, but I wouldn’t say she has the flashiest style, she just tries really hard.”
Forsythe, who bought her card with the intention of 2022 being Sister’s seasoning year, says she’s been proud of how the 7-year-old palomino mare with little prior rodeo experience has held her own against the best in the business.
“Funny story, I entered Jackson, and up until the day before I debated back and forth of if I was even going to go or not,” she said. “The day before, me and my dad talked, and I made up my mind I was going to turn out. The next day I went to class and on my drive home, I said, ‘Nope, I’m going!’ My mom and some different friends of mine had been encouraging me to go, they were like, ‘What’s it going to hurt?’ So, I went to Jackson and ended up placing! Sherry (Cervi) won it with a 13.8 and I was a 13.9; Jackson changed everything for me. I don’t know if Sister sensed something being different or what, but she stepped it up there!”
Forsythe is entered at Guymon (Pioneer Days in Oklahoma) the first weekend in May and said she’d like to continue winning enough to finish the season among the WPRA top 50.
“Honestly, I’m going to take it week by week with that goal in mind,” she said. “I’m in nursing school at Northwestern State University, I’m almost done and I want to rodeo as much as I can, but I’ve got to complete my program.”
Forsythe has been running barrels since about the age of 6. Now, at 22 she is ready to tackle the rodeo road with the help of her family and sponsors like Complete Equine Performance that she appreciates greatly for their support.
Does Your Horse Have Any Quirks? “Yes!”
“Sister is scared of her own shadow, even to this day,” said Forsythe. “I took her to a jackpot a few weeks ago because even though I’m rodeoing I still take her to the occasional jackpot and exhibition her and stuff. So, I got to the first barrel in my exhibition and she spotted the laser marker … she wheeled and spun around and tried to run out of the arena. I got her around first, and at the second barrel she spotted the banners and spooked, so by the time I got to third I was so embarrassed and just wanted out of there. She saw something, spooked again and hit the barrel, ran over it, and actually demolished the popup barrel!
“If Sister sees a Walmart sack, she’ll take anyone out to get away from it. When she wants a treat or wants to get turned out or anything like that, she’ll hold her leg up and nicker at you. She’ll just keep her leg held up until she gets what she wants. We call her Twinkle Toes. We’re both a lot, we’re both just a little dramatic,” Forsythe laughed.
Barrel Racing Results, unofficial
- Presley Smith, 13.822, $2,500
- Jordan Driver, 13.963, $1,500
- Hannah Forsythe, 18.87+, $1,000
- Taycie Matthews, 23.92++, $500
- Hannah Forsythe, 13.822
- Presley Smith, 13.883
- Jordan Driver, 13.994
- Taycie Matthews, 14.02
- Teneille Angland, 14.11
- Jamie Olsen, 14.19
- Kailee Murdoch, 18.83+
- Jessica Anderson, 24.23++
- Wendy Cline, Hempstead, Texas, 33.54+++
- Bugg Beeler, Terrell, Texas, 14.95
- Bayleigh Choate, Fort Worth, Texas, 15.08
- Hannah Forsythe, Natchitoches, Louisiana, 14.03, $1,328.89 (1)
- Presley Smith, Denham Springs, Louisiana, 14.05, $1,155.66 (2)
- Kailee Murdock, Litchfield Park, Arizona, 14.26, $808.89 (4)
- Taycie Matthews, Wynne, Arkansas, 14.34, $278.89 (7)
- Katie Chism, Henry, Wisconsin, 23.80++
- Bryana Lehrmann, Lexington, Texas, 14.73
- Jamie Olsen, Brock, Texas, 14.12, $982.22 (3)
- Teneille Angland, Cisco, Texas, 14.29, $462.22 (6)
- Jessica Anderson, Bryan, Texas, 14.42, $115.56 (8)
- Jordan Driver, Garden City, Texas, 14.27, $635.56 (5)
- Laura Mote, Llano, Texas, 18.99+
- Emily Grace Turner, Haines City, Florida, 14.56
In addition to competing for $100,000, each of the contestants received a gift bag of items from The Cowboy Channel with items to help them get down the road during their rookie year.
The Resistol Rookie of the Year Award is one of the top awards that can be earned by PRCA and WPRA members. Money won during the Cowboy Channel Rookie Roundup presented by Resistol will count toward the Resistol Rookie Standings but will not be credited toward NFR qualification.