Behind the Slide – Cooper Smith 

Many of the names known in the sport of reining have made their home in the industry for decades. A newer name that is making its mark is that of Cooper Smith. 

“My dad has always had halter horses,” said Smith. “So we’ve always been in the horse business, and growing up, I was always at a horse show.” 

Consigning nearly 20 horses in the National Reining Horse Association Markel Futurity Sales, one of Smith’s offerings was the highest-selling horse, bringing $189,000 in the Premier Sale. 

Smith has two keys to his increasing success, both of which he was more than willing to share.

“A lot of our success is due to the people we surround ourselves with, and the rest is how we pick our horses,” he said.

When Smith is selecting a horse, he looks at the “individual first, then the pedigree,” inspecting to see whether the animal has a good mind, straight legs, good bone structure, good feet, and a ready-to-go attitude.

“You can’t ride the papers, but it sure does help,” Smith said about his strategy.

In addition to his 2-year-old consignments, Smith brought four 3-year-olds to compete in the 2023 NRHA Futurity. Three of them — Best Flinns Forever, Galilei, and Pawn Stars— made the Open Futurity semi-finals.

Best Flinns Forever (In Like Flinn x Dainty Little Step), a mare bred by Brooke Wharton, was shown by Sam Flarida. Galilei, a stallion bred by Michell Anne Kimball and shown by NRHA Million Dollar Rider Cade McCutcheon, is by NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz and out of A Chic In Wranglers. A stallion bred by Adh-Mor Ranch, Pawn Stars, by PS Mega Shine Chic out of All Guns On Deck, was shown by NRHA Million Dollar Rider Dany Tremblay.

“He’s one of the best horses we’ve ever had, and he’s been so good to us,” Smith said of Pawn Stars.

To anyone wanting to make their way in the reining industry, Smith has a few words of advice. 

“Buy a good individual; use your budget. Don’t try to save money on a horse because you’ll just cost yourself in the end,” Smith said. “Then go find someone who can do the work, whether that’s showing them or selling them. And remember, they don’t have to make a reiner to be a good horse, as long as they’re working and fulfilling your goals.” 

Smith credited a large portion of his success to Dany and Fred Tremblay of Tremblay Performance Horses. 

“Everything that’s happened to Cooper and Kelsey [Flessner, Smith’s fiancé] is because they worked so hard,” said Fred Tremblay. “I’ve been around them every day, and they deserve everything they have. Cooper deserves more credit than he’s taking because he works hard seven days a week, but [he’s] also a good guy — just another brother to me.”