By Kendra Santos
Bronc rider Brandon Lansford just graduated from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in ag production and animal science. He’ll return to school this fall to pursue a master’s degree in animal science. Translation: Lansford is one smart cowboy. But he’s clearly not just book smart. And he proved last night that he’s got some guts to go with that IQ. Because when his name was called in the stock draft here at the $562,500 Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City, Brandon had the brass to pick Ward Macza’s notorious bay bucker Get Smart, who’s on his farewell rodeo tour in 2022. Lansford took the victory lap, which advanced him to Monday’s Gold Medal Round—and he earned every single one of those 89.5 points the hard way.
“That ride was terrifying from the very first jump,” said Lansford, 22. “It took every bit of try I have to see eight seconds. Get Smart is the very best horse I’ve ever been on, and that was my personal best ride and score ever. Get Smart is a very famous horse. He’s a big-time bucker. Kolby Wanchuk was 90.5 on him here last year. What an honor to get to ride him.”
Yes, Get Smart has all the accolades. He’s a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year, a Saddle Bronc Horse of the National Finals Rodeo and a Canadian Professional Rodeo Association Horse of the Year. Wyatt Casper won $600,000 on him at The American in 2020, and so much more.
“He has a heart as big as a house,” Macza has said more than once of his four-legged pride and joy. “He’s a freak of nature.”
Macza has declared this 2022 rodeo season Get Smart’s swan-song farewell tour. And it’s as if this huge-hearted horse knows it, the way he leaves the arena with his head held high, like the living legend that he is.
Ranch-raised Lansford has been riding horses since he was two weeks old.
“I started off behind the saddle horn in front of my dad as a tiny baby,” he said. “When I would cry, my mom would say, ‘Here you go,’ and away we went.”
Lansford lives in Cotulla, Texas, and has some famous neighbors. He lives a few miles from ProRodeo Hall of Famer Phil Lyne, and has rodeoed most of his life with Phil’s grandson Tanner Green, who’s also competing here at the Days of ’47. Three-time World Champion Barrel Racer Hailey Kinsel also shares his hometown, and is a close family friend.
Lansford got engaged three days ago to Madison Lake, a golfer who’s in her second year of vet school at Texas A & M in Canyon. Brandon’s just now breaking into the bigs, and has found a perfect launching pad with the World Champions Rodeo Alliance. He split second and third last December at the WCRA’s Cowtown Christmas in Fort Worth.
“I love the WCRA,” he said. “It gives everybody the opportunity to get on the best horses and get on against the best cowboys in the world. The WCRA gives a guy like me who’s an unknown name a chance.
“I’m amateur rodeoing right now. I just filled my (PRCA) permit, and I’m planning on being a rookie in 2023. A ride like that on Get Smart definitely builds my confidence, and gives me the feeling that I’m ready.”