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Dalton Rixen wins saddle bronc, Blake Smith ties for second in bareback at PRCA permit challenge

Dalton Rixen and Blake Smith are growing up in their rodeo lives.In the world of professional rodeo, going from a permit to a pro card is like moving up from a driver's permit to a license. Though they already have their cards, Rixen and Smith pr...

Dalton Rixen and Blake Smith are growing up in their rodeo lives.
In the world of professional rodeo, going from a permit to a pro card is like moving up from a driver’s permit to a license. Though they already have their cards, Rixen and Smith proved they’re some of the best among permit-level cowboys.
Rixen won the the saddle bronc riding and Smith tied for second in bareback riding in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Permit Members of the Year Challenge Thursday in Las Vegas.
“It’s a good start for the year,” Rixen said. “It’s a confidence builder for me. It’s going to keep me going. It’s a great feeling.”
Rixen, a former Dickinson State cowboy and a native of Richardton, won his event with a 72-point ride in the first round, which was good enough for third. Audy Reed rode for a round-best 80 points.
“The first horse wasn’t the greatest, I guess,” Rixen said. “It got me a little nervous because I was about to get bucked off, but I sat back in and finished. But it turned out I didn’t do very well in that round, but I still had one more horse left.”
Rixen scored an 80-point ride in the second for an average of 152, which was good enough for first after Reed was bucked off in the second go. Rixen won $940 for his performance.
Going into the second round, Rixen knew the horse would be a good ride before he even got on.
“We came out, the horse did what it was supposed to do, and it turned out for me,” Rixen said. “Hopefully my name catches people’s eyes and judges’ eyes.”
Smith added: “That was awesome. He deserved to win it. He really outrode everybody down there.”
Smith, a DSU senior from Zap, was third in his first round with 77 points and tied for first with 80 points in the second ride. He won $752 with his average tie for second at 157 total points.
“I didn’t really change the gameplan too much in my mind,” Smith said. “I knew I was going to have to go out and just let it all hang out and give it my all.”
Smith, who’s won every college rodeo he has competed in this fall and is first in the Great Plains Region and second in the nation heading into the spring college season, gave the second-round horse a couple extra spur kicks because it was such a fun ride.

“He had a lot of kick and was really electric,” Smith said. “Just an awesome horse to get on. … I was just happy to end the ride with that ride.”
The area cowboys just wanted to make their names more recognizable in the world of professional rodeo. They just happened to make some money and take a trip to Las Vegas as an added bonus.
“We’re just trying to get our names out and make names for ourselves,” Rixen said. “It was quite eventful. I guess it was a good relief when the rodeo was over with, but I wasn’t too nervous beforehand. It was just another rodeo.”
Smith went to more professional rodeos along with college events just to make the top five among permit holders in the United States, as only the top five in PRCA permit standings were invited to the event.
“I wanted to go down there because it’s a good thing for the young guys to get their name out there,” Smith said. “I knew there was going to be really good bucking horses there, so I couldn’t wait. I was excited to go against the top five guys in the PRCA in the permit standings. I was excited to see where I matched up with the rest of those guys, and it just turned out really well for me.”
Rixen said he didn’t get a card last season because he knew he couldn’t commit himself to professional rodeo as much while still competing for DSU, so he just rode with his permit. He said competitors have a better chance of becoming eligible to buy a card and make other rodeos in their rookie seasons.
The whole point of the permit challenge, now in its second year, is to show off up-and-coming talent, Smith said. And now with their names both in successful standing, both hope to compete in PRCA rodeos approaching in Denver and Fort Worth, Texas.
“Guys like us, we’re beginners, but that shouldn’t matter. It’s still competition,” Rixen said. “All you can do is move on to bigger and better things.”

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