Tyler Smith qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2010, finishing third overall.
After several years fighting injuries, the 26-year-old came back strong in 2013, including leading the standings at one point.
The injury bug caught him again, however, as he broke his foot after winning the Reno Rodeo Xtreme Bulls competition in June. Currently rehabbing and beginning to pick a few rodeos to test his progress, Smith took time to talk about how he got into bull riding and his thoughts about this year.
Below are portions of those conversations:
Lincoln: So what made you get into rodeo?
Tyler: I just grew up around it. My dad team ropes, my grandpa roped and we always had horses and stuff. My dad rodeoed bareback horses and roped a lot.
Lincoln: You were around rodeo continuously as a kid?
Tyler: Yeah. I watched it on TV and I just had a fascination with it for some reason. I didn’t really like riding horses growing up, but I had to do it because my dad and grandpa made me do it. Riding horses that much helped me learn how to ride bulls.
Lincoln: What made you choose bull riding?
Tyler: We used to watch the Mesquite Championship Rodeo on TV all the time when I was a little kid and I just remember watching the bull riding and loving it. I don’t know what it was about the bull riding, I just loved it.
Lincoln: When did you start riding bulls?
Tyler: (laugh) My grandpa had some cows and stuff and he had a big old herd bull out in his field. I was probably only 6 or 7 years old. A big old 2,000-pound bull walked up to the fence and I grabbed some hay and tried to feed him. I got him up to the fence and fed him, and jumped on the fence and jumped on his back and he took off running and threw me off. After that, I thought I was a bull rider, I guess. (laugh)
Lincoln: But did the ride last eight seconds?
Tyler: No. As soon as he took off running I fell off. I didn’t have anything to hold onto. There wasn’t anyone around, but when I told my mom and dad about it, they weren’t very happy with me, but I thought it was awesome. (laugh) I thought I was ready to go as soon as I did that.
Lincoln: Does any bull stand out in your mind as a favorite you’ve ridden?
Tyler: Not really. There are so many of them that are so good, nowadays. It used to be there was one bull around that everybody knew was the best bull. Now, it seems like every contractor’s got so many great bulls that it has changed a lot.
Lincoln: Do you have any memorable rides you like to look back on?
Tyler: There are a few of them. There was one I rode in Washington in 2010. It was 92 points. That is one I think about quite a bit. I was 93 two times this year. Those stand out a lot in my mind, too. The rides above 90, 92 or 93, those ones mean a lot to me. It seems like to be 90 is one thing, but when you are above 90 ... I don’t know. It is hard to explain.
Lincoln: You were leading the standings at one point in 2013 and are still in the top three or four, correct?
Tyler: Yeah. I felt like I was having the best year I’ve ever had. I was riding everything and drawing good bulls and winning everything, and then I broke my foot right after I won Reno’s Xtreme Bulls and I haven’t got to ride very much since. It has put a damper on my standings, but I would rather be healthy going into the finals instead of hurt and taking a chance of getting hurt worse. It doesn’t really hurt (right now), but it’s just not strong enough. I’m rehabbing and doing everything I can to get the swelling out of it so I can get my normal boot back on. I wear a size nine and I have a size 11.5 boot on my right foot. It’s pretty swollen.
Lincoln: Do you have a time frame for getting back full time?
Tyler: I will go to Cheyenne and get on there, but I don’t know. They are saying 3 months before it is healed, but I’m thinking maybe another month and I’ll be going as hard as I can again. ❖