Posted By thecircusblog on July 8, 2012
This is the cover of the Mark Smith booklet at Knotts Berry Farms where Mark presented his western horse show. The years that he presented his show were in the early 1950s. Mark Smith was a well known and respected horse trainer. His venues were rodeos, horse shows. fairs and a vast array of motion picture work. Mark would rent horse stock from one to one hundred to the studios and all were trained for mostly riding. He also had trained bucking stock that on command would throw a stunt rider.
Mark was an important part of the 101 Ranch Wild West & Circus in 1945 and part of 1946. On the show he presented a liberty act , manage horses , trick riding horses and all of the riding stock used by the performing cowboys and Indians as well as the pulling stock for the stage coach and buggies. All of the wranglers that work for him also performed or rode in the grand western spec. One of the highlights of the show was the six girls that rode precision manage. If you go to categories at the beginning of the circus blog and click on “101 Wild West Show & Circus” there are many photos of what I just wrote about.
As the years passed and there was no longer the 101, we still would visit the Mark Smith and his family. Mark maintained all of his horses and was going full tilt with shows. His home was near Devonshire Downs, Calif on a very large ranch, but there was something special about this place. Near the main house could be seen clearly the large screen from a nearby Drive-In theater. Of course Mark took advantage of this little gold mine and after the evening dinner, no matter who his guests were, he would invite everyone to a movie. He had built a special patio facing the movie screen which included deck chairs that provided a perfect view. He even went as far as to promote 4 movie speakers and ran sound cable. Mark Smith had more visitors than he could handle when the word got out. There was an open invitation to all his friends. He told everyone even if I am not at home, just pull around back, turn on the speakers and enjoy the movie.” It is sort of like having a big screen televisions that you did not have to buy.
It is inevitable that you will loose track of your friends as we eventually did with the Smith family. Life in the circus business is so very precarious…you meet and make friends and then they are gone, sometimes never to see again….sort of like…. “I love you honey but the season is over.” I have found though the circus blog that I been able to reunite with many friends that I have not spoken to in years. It’s also has been a source of numerous new friends for me. The next 11 pages on the Mark Smith family were sent to me by Brad Farren. Brad’s mother was one of the Mark Smith girls that worked the liberty horses. Her name was Janice”Skeeter”Knudsen. Later she was married to Mark Smiths stepson Harold Farren, Brads father.