Edward Young was born and raised in Walker, La. and he still calls the town home to this day. He has been competing in the […]
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
As a former performing art dancer, American Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) trick riding performer, Shannon Smith, has moved from center stage recital to center stage act – with a bit more grit and dirt. Still using grace, muscle and style, Shannon has traded her Pointe shoes for a horse, and in less than two years, the trick rider has progressed to presenting her specialty act with Dave Martin and the AFR-36. “It takes a lot of guts, but I love it. I love the thrill and traveling that I have experienced,” she said of the lifestyle change.
Being the daughter of APRA steer wrestler, Mike Smith, and younger sister of Skip Smith, who is also an APRA steer wrestler, Shannon had every opportunity to get involved with horses, but her interests were occupied with dance instead. “I had nothing to do with horses growing up. My dad was always trying to get me to go out and at least ride, but I just wasn‘t in to it,” she said. “Looking back, it would have been a plus if I would have started earlier though.” While her mom (Fran) does not compete, Shannon says that she is the ultimate rodeo mom and offers her support through it all.
For 12 years, Shannon specialized in ballet, Pointe and jazz dancing and it wasn’t until after her high school graduation that she was persuaded to buy a horse. Soon after, she purchased her first APRA membership card and began competing in the barrel racing. “I raced for one year and then took a break for a couple of years before returning to perform as a trick rider,” she said. Through her building interest in trick riding, Shannon took her dad’s hazing horse (Bo) and started out in her new trade. “I bought a book to learn how and any time I would run into more experienced trick riders, I would take the opportunity to ask questions and learn more. I owe a lot to Dusti Crain and Loretta Pemberton for all of their help,” she said of her start, but says her parents have been her biggest support. “From traveling with me, to going with me to buy horses, they have been through it all. My dad will even go out to the arena and help me. Even if I say I am scared, he just says ‘I don‘t care, go do it‘,” she said.
While still barrel racing at local timed events, Shannon is reaching her second year as a performing trick rider and like any other rodeo athlete, she continues to make progress with her craft. “I would like to try to get a Roman riding act put together with my trick riding act and continue to perform with the APRA,” she said of her future goals. She will resume with her main horse (Bubba), a 16-year old Palomino that she purchased a year ago. “It is definitely the people,” she said of what keeps her coming back to the APRA. “Both, contestants and those who run it are so helpful with great attitudes and support. It is a great association and I love it.”
Outside of the arena, the McVeytown, Pa., native splits her living as a chiropractor billing specialist and working for the United States Postal Service. At 27 years old, she continues to make life changes with a recent engagement to Matt Hoffmaster, who is in the U.S. Army and currently stationed in North Carolina. The soldier showed his braveness through a crowd frontal proposal at the APRA sanctioned Huntington, Pa., rodeo last June, where he rode out on a horse and took to one knee to ask for Shannon‘s hand in marriage. “Honestly, I was very nervous,” admitted the bride-to-be. The couple are planning a 2015 spring wedding.