by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
This year is Sam Smith’s third time to compete in the AQHA World Championship Show arena.
“The first time, to tell you how long ago it was,” says the reining trainer from Marrietta, Oklahoma, “it was in Louisville, Kentucky, in the '70s. I was 18 years old, and I was showing in western pleasure.”
The second time was last year. He finished third in the junior reining finals on Carl Lambert’s mare Good Time Whiz Girl.
Sam’s third appearance was again in the junior reining, and he made the finals with Tim Roper’s 2007 gelding by Magnum Chic Dream, Chicsdundreamin. The horse has more than $72,000 in National Reining Horse Association earnings and was the 2010 National Reining Breeders Classic open prime time champion. For 2011, Tim asked Sam to point the horse toward the World Show.
Fifth in the go for the November 12 finals, Sam was pretty confident in his horse coming out of the prelims with a 220.5.
“It was a run-in pattern, No. 9,” Sam says, thinking through his go. “Run in and stop, and that’s the horse’s best maneuver, he really stops hard…. He backed good to the middle. My first turn, I felt like I could have gotten him turned just a little better but it was penalty three. The second turn felt really good.”
The horse loped off into his small, slow circle to the left really well, and his left circles were good. But the ground felt heavier to Sam than it did when he’d ridden in the arena earlier: “I don’t know that it bothered the horse any, but I could feel him laboring quite a bit.”
The pattern calls for a change from the large, fast circles to the left to small, slow to the right, “which is pretty difficult to do after you’ve been running really hard," but Sam felt the gelding handled it well.
“The big circles to the right I felt were real good, and he’s a good stopper, I knew it’d be all fun after that.”
The judges scored the go with a 219.5, and it stuck to the end. The pretty palomino picked up a gold trophy before leaving the arena.
Sam has been good friends with Tim Roper of Hobart, Indiana since childhood. The Ropers are longtime AQHA exhibitors, and Tim’s daughter, Indy, also shows Chicsdundreamin.
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“My mother (Nancy) would be really proud of both (Sam and me) tonight,” Tim says, “because she was our first 4-H leader. She taught us the parts of the horse, the parts of a saddle, and really got us started. Our family is so proud of Sam. We have done many of the other events and when we decided to get into reining, obviously the first person I called was Sam.”
Earlier November 12, Tim’s horse Only Royal Blue won the junior working hunter world championship with AQHA Professional Horseman Lainie Deboer.
Plans are now for Chicsdundreamin to get some time off and then hit some Derby events next year, and perhaps return to the World Show for Sam’s fourth trip.
“I’ve got to thank my wife (Linda), who certainly is behind us and is very supportive,” Tim says.
“I want to thank my wife (Kelly) as well; I think it’d be really smart to," adds Sam.
Tim smiles and slaps his old buddy on the back: “We’re a couple of smart cowboys, aren’t we?”
Sam Smith shows Chicsdundreamin. (Journal photo)