What's Your Number? With Australia's Ben Smith

Ben Smith talks team roping in Australia compared to the US.
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Ben Smith talks team roping in Australia compared to the US.
Credit: Jennings Photography

Credit: Jennings Photography

Number and end: 6 Header 

Association of Preference: In Australia, I rope in Australia’s Bushman’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association. In America, it’s the World Series and USTRC ropings.

Rope of Choice: Sypder 5-strand

Biggest Win: The World Series Finale in Las Vegas. I won $50,000 roping with Ty Parkinson in the No. 11. We were 29th call back and ended up fifth in the roping. 

Favorite Roping: The East Coast Team Roping Association in Sydney, Australia, has a lot of money and a lot of prizes. 

What’s the difference between roping in Australia and the U.S.?

It’s a lot tougher in the U.S. than it is at home—it’s twice the competition. I’ve been coming over here because it makes you step up and be better than you are in Australia. Whenever we come over here, we have a lot of fun. We can go to a lot of ropings.

Who plugged you in to the U.S. roping scene? I met JoJo LeMond about four years ago—the last year he went to the NFR. He invited us back to his place and ever since then he has been unreal to us—me and my wife, Lauren. They help us in so many ways, taking us wherever we need to go. We stay at their place and it’s hard to find people like that who will help you out. I can’t thank those guys enough. 

Do you ride his horses? He just lets us ride whatever we need to ride. There’s no way I would have won that $50,000 without his help. He’s just the type of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back.

What’s the best horse you’ve ever ridden? I guess my own horse, Sonny. Maybe it’s just what you get used to. I know every little trick he’s got. The horse of JoJo’s that I rode at the World Series he got from Tee Woolman. He calls him T-Bone. He’s got a funny deal in the box, but he works unbelievably in the field. He suits me. 

How often do you come to the U.S.? I like to come to the U.S. two or three times a year. Every time I come back, JoJo tells me I’m roping better than the last time he saw me. He gives me things to work on. 

How did you get in to roping? I come from a farming background. My mom and dad have a decent-sized property and they farm beef cattle. We used to do campdrafts when we were little kids. I told my mom I want to be a cowboy, and she said, “You’re not going to be a bloody cowboy, you’ll get killed.” I went against her wishes and rode bulls ever since I was 12. I had a few bad wrecks and was advised to give it up, so I give it up at about 17. My oldest brother, Josh, was into roping, so I just started from there. I learned the hard way, I had to learn to ride and train my horse at the same time—which makes life difficult if you’re trying to learn to rope.

Competition Philosophy: At first, I thought you’d have to be JoJo LeMond and be 3 or 4 seconds to win something over here. Then I came to realize that you just need to go catch your cattle. If you catch all your cattle, you have a good chance of winning some money.