Bill Smith was born in Red Lodge, Montana June 28, 1941. He spent his early years helping his Dad with horse concessions and pack trips into the mountains. From these experiences involving horses, Bill developed a great love and respect for them. As a result, almost every aspect of Bill’s life has involved horses in one way or another.
Because he grew up around the Lindermans and out of admiration and respect for their rodeo abilities, Bill decided he would like to rodeo. After much determination and “want to”, Bill joined the RCA and achieved the honor of being named “World’s Champion Saddle Bronc Rider” three times-1969, 1971, and 1973. During his rodeo years, he also served on the RCA board of directors. When asked what he liked best about rodeo, Bill would answer, “Horses That Buck!” Bill retired from professional rodeo in 1979 at which time he was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After rodeoing for so many years, Bill wanted his life’s work to continue involving horses. He could always ride most anything that bucked, but he wanted to improve his horsemanship skills. Al friend of Bills, Tom Marvel, told him to go see Ray Hunt. Bill took his advice and attended and sponsored several Ray Hunt Clinics. Bill has over the years conducted many colt starting and horsemanship clinics of his own. At every clinic he states, “Whatever good I learned about horsemanship, I learned from Ray Hunt.”
Bill, his wife, Carole, his family and partner, H.B. “Woody” Bartlett host a very successful broke gelding sale each May and a production sale in September in Thermopolis, Wyoming. This past May marked the 33rd Annual Spring Sale. September 10 will mark the 16th Annual fall sale. Some 120 broke geldings sell each year, along with many ranch raised started two year olds, yearlings and weanling colts from their breeding programs.
In 2000, Bill was inducted into the Rodeo Historical Society in Oklahoma City and served as a director on that board for two terms. 2010 marked another tip of the hat for Bill when he was bestowed the Ben Johnson Award by the Rodeo Historical Society. This past fall Bill was inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Bill and Carole have called Thermopolis their home since 1981.