Reata Smith loving horses, heifers, ag education

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

Reata poses with her heifer, Red Velvet, she picked out last December. Photo courtesy of Reata Smith

Soon-to-be Grass Range sophomore Reata Smith is enjoying her summer, spending a lot of time with her horses and her heifer, Red Velvet, on the N Bar Ranch, where she lives with her parents, Russ and Crystal. Hoping to be a vet in the future, Reata finds her time with her animals precious and greatly appreciates each moment with them, even when it’s not easy. “It’s a lot of hard work having a heifer,” she said. “Red Velvet has a strict feeding schedule. And, since I’ve only had her since December, I feel like she still has trouble trusting me sometimes. It’s tough.” Nevertheless, Reata pushes through it and works hard to satisfy her animals. She works hard to build relationships. This was the case with her horse, Grumpy, an appaloosa quarter horse. “They call him Grumpy because he used to not like very many people. He has tried to buck my dad off and has tried to buck off other people, too. My dad decided to let me try riding him anyway, but he liked me, and he’s liked me ever since.” Grumpy has become her favorite of the six horses her family has on the ranch, and she rides him as much as possible. When not riding horses or caring for her heifer, Reata stays busy with other activities. More often than not, those activities are ag-related or academic-related. This week, for example, Reata was in San Diego competing at the National Tournament with the Grass Range Family Career and Community Leaders of America team. “We are a good group of kids that work together really well,” Reata said. We are all like family, and making it to nationals is like a family vacation where we get to prove how well we work together.” The trip isn’t all business, though, as the team is also getting to explore the San Diego area. “We are having a lot of fun,” she said. “We went to the zoo and to a Brazilian Steakhouse. It was really, really good.” Like caring for her heifer, competing in FCCLA and conducting meetings in front of intimidating judges is no walk in the park, but it’s helped Reata grow. “I’ve learned a lot about teamwork and leadership. I’ve learned how to speak out and be more courageous and confident. It’s helped me a lot, “she said. “It’s been a great experience.” But, more than anything, Reata is pretty excitedabout learning the ropes of ranching. “I would like to raise more cattle,” she said. “I already have three cows and three calves.” Perhaps that explains her passion for FFA, a new program at Grass Range thanks to advisor Joel King. “Mr. King is a fun advisor,” Reata said. “I’d known him previously from 4-H. He used to help us get the pigs into the show ring. Walking into FFA and knowing he was the advisor made it even cooler.” As an instructor, Reata said King has really helped her understand more about “heifers and pigs and how to judge them.” “He helped me pick out Red Velvet, as a result,” she said. Reata said she is thankful for the new FFA program at Grass Range and is excited to be a part of it. “I’ve always wanted to be in FFA,” she said. “It helps you learn and understand agriculture.” For Reata, life is good, as it’s been a great start to her high school career. Looking forward, Reata said she believes the best is yet to come.

Poll

Where is your favorite place to go camping in Central Montana?