Jackson Schmidt is a bonafide cowboy, spending his days sorting cattle and riding the rodeo circuit.
Unlike many young men, Schmidt has the credentials to prove his skill as he is ranked 22nd in the nation as the best all-around horseman and is tied for fifth place in the race for rookie of the year in his division in the Little Britches Rodeo Association.
Schmidt has accomplished all of this in three short years of horsemanship at the tender age of 8.
“I’m almost 9 and I started riding when I was only 6,” Schmidt said. “My mom asked me if I thought I would like to try to ride and so I started horsemanship and westernship classes in the Little Britches Rodeo Association.
“I’ve really enjoyed doing it and it has kept me busy,” he added. “I have a really nice horse and I loved him as soon as I saw him; we really work together and it’s like we are one animal.”
Schmidt has two horses that he rides in the association, Anvil and Uno, but his favorite is Uno.
Uno is named because he only has one good eye, which has made the connection between Schmidt and his horse closer and unique.
“You really have to work with a horse and ride and train them so they know you,” Schmidt said. “You can’t just get on them the day of an event and expect to do well if you haven’t worked with them or have had someone else do all the work for you.
“Because Uno can only see out of one eye I have to guide him and work with him at events,” he explained. “When we are barrel racing we go to his blindside first and I help guide him around that first barrel that way he only has to go to his blindside twice.”
Those are the things a cowboy learns from working daily with his horses, something Schmidt does on the farm his mother and step-father own near Cole Camp.
“Each day I am at the farm I have to do my chores,” Schmidt said. “I have to feed and water my horses and every other day I have to clean the stalls and give them fresh bedding and I brush them.
“It depends on what I have to do but most days I spend about three or four hours with my horses to make sure I am doing everything right and I am doing a good job,” he added. “I have to take care of my tack and my saddles too but I don’t mind because I love spending time with my horses.”
Schmidt said one of the reasons he likes to compete is because he likes to let others see what he and Uno and Anvil can do.
“I have made a lot of friends on the circuit,” Schmidt said. “There is one girl, Karlee, who is in my division who is pushing me all the time to do better; we met because our moms are friends.
“That’s one of the best things about the rodeos is because I get to spend time with my horses and my family and friends,” he added. “I have one more year at this division before I age out and move on.”
According to Schmidt’s father, Dustin Schmidt, his son has competed in 19 Little Britches Association Rodeos, winning five all-around titles and three reserve titles.
In the Missouri/Kansas Youth Rodeo Association, Schmidt has twice been named the Peewee All-Around Champion.
He competes in a number of different events but concentrates on barrel racing, poles, goat, calf-tying, and flags.
“At each rodeo they have different events,” Schmidt explained. “I have to practice so I can be solid and good at each one of them.
“My mom (Randi) went to college on a rodeo scholarship and she and my step-dad, Jed, taught me a lot and work with me,” Schmidt added. “Jed is a farrier and so on my days off I like to go with him to Windsor where I help him sort cattle.”
Schmidt explained that he and his step-father work at the sale barns, sorting and isolating the cattle when they are needed for the ring.
“It helps me practice,” Schmidt said. “I treat rodeo like I do baseball, it’s just another sport I love to play.”
If Schmidt got his love of rodeo from his mother, his love of baseball comes from his father.
“I love baseball as much as I do my rodeoing,” Schmidt said. “I play two positions on my team (pitcher and shortstop).
“I love the Royals and Alex Gordon is my favorite player,” he added. “My dad took me to the parade after the Royals won the series and it was really loud and crowded but I’m glad I got to be there.”
During the summer two to three nights a week, Schmidt is playing baseball for the Cole Camp third through fifth grade team and two or three days he is competing in rodeo events or practicing for an upcoming event.
“It would be a really hard choice if I had to pick one or the other, because I love baseball and rodeo,” Schmidt said. “They keep me really busy but I love playing ball and being with my horses so I’m happy.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484