December 5-14, 2024


Others Before Self Helps Power Caleb Smidt to Fourth Gold Buckle

Jul 26, 2023

Others Before Self Helps Power Caleb Smidt to Fourth Gold Buckle

By Brian Hurlburt

Try as a writer might, getting four-time PRCA Tie-Down Roping World Champion Caleb Smidt to talk about solely himself is a difficult task. The rodeo legend seems to always deflect to a higher power and others—both human and animal–when it comes to revealing the keys to his success.

Caleb Smidt in action during the second round of the 2022 Wrangler NFR. | Photo by Hailey Rae

“I have just been blessed to able to do this sport at a high level and be able to keep winning,” Smidt said. “It is an honor to win one, and I count my blessings to have won more than one. I never take anything for granted and know that I have been blessed with a good horse, great support from my family, and good calves along the way.”

When pressed, Smidt did share an additional thought about what it has taken to win four gold buckles.

“I guess being consistent has been important because each year that I have won a world title I also won the average,” Smidt said.

Smidt won the average in 2022 just like he did in 2015, 2018 and 2021 enroute to his other world titles. In all, Smidt has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo® presented by Teton Ridge nine times.

Victory lap for Caleb Smidt during the 2022 Wrangler NFR. | Photo by Click Thompson

Smidt earned $225,221 during the 2022 NFR and finished the season with $374,737 overall. Through July 15 of this year, Smidt was ranked 18th in the PRCA standings and had work to do to get back to Las Vegas to defend his back-to-back world titles.

“I need to win a lot of money because I haven’t won a whole lot this year,” Smidt said. “It has been pretty slow, so I have a long way to go before I get there.”

The NFR is an atmosphere that Smidt lives for each year. Should he successfully qualify, he will appreciate the moment even more as the years click by and retirement grows closer.

“They can move it wherever they want or whatever, but it is never going be the same if they take it out of Vegas,” Smidt said. “It is an unbelievable town and is different than any other town you’ll ever visit. It is a different setting and a different feeling than any other rodeo. The 10 days and nights are unbelievable. It is electric with the amount of people that show up there to support rodeo is awesome. There is no better place to have the greatest rodeo in the world than Las Vegas.”

Even with his focus on his performance each night during the NFR, Smidt has always found time to give back and help others while in Las Vegas. Smidt is always front and center to throw his hat in the mix to volunteer, both literally and figuratively.

Caleb Smidt, Kaycee Feild, Rhen Richard, and Jeremy Buhler spending time with the kids during the 2022 Gold Circle of Champions event. | Photo by Steve Spatafore

Smidt is a regular at the Grant-a-Gift Autism event and has built bonds with some of the kids. In 2022, he also was part of the Golden Circle of Champions that brings kids and families dealing with cancer to the NFR. Meeting the youngsters is both emotional and inspirational for Smidt

“These experiences just keep you humble and teaches you to not take any day for granted,” Smidt said. “It is awesome to get your mind off yourself and do something for other people. To bring a smile to a kid’s face who is struggling makes you happy inside and your heart smile. I try to do whatever I can to make a difference and create a memory.”

Smidt and the other cowboys show support to the kids on and off the dirt.

“We wore a War Bonnet gold hat on Gold Night during a perf last year to honor the kids of the Golden Circle of Champions,” Smidt said. “Each competitor had the name of a child in our hat and then we gave the hat to them after the round. That was an amazing experience.”

When asked what he would definitely have to include if he were writing the Caleb Smidt story, he deflected yet again.

“Praise God and stay humble,” Smidt said.