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Spur of the moment: N.D. cowboy fends off muggers with a kick

Dallas Schmidt

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. -- Dallas Schmidt got quite a kick out of earning his first Top Ten finish in National Reining Horse Association competition at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio.

While that was a career-long goal, it doesn't quite compare with the kick he delivered to a would-be thief during a failed robbery attempt near the hotel where he and his family were staying.

It was shortly after 11 p.m. Oct. 4 when Dallas Schmidt went from his hotel room to the truck to retrieve a baby bottle for his and DaLayne Schmidt's one-year-old daughter, Bailey.

"I had just emptied my pockets and taken off my boots," Dallas said. "I wasn't even going to put my boots back on."

But he did. A few moments later, Schmidt was standing on the running board of his Freightliner semi-tractor, facing inside the truck, when he was approached by two men, one of them demanding, "give me your money."

"My back was to them," he said. "I had only a split second to think. I leaned forward to look into the truck for a fire extinguisher, or a wrench or something to defend myself with."

Then, one of the suspects moved in closer.

Without turning around to face them, Schmidt said he back-kicked one of the alleged assailants in the face.

"I kicked him," he said. "I kicked him pretty hard."

So hard that the rock grinder spur on his cowboy boot and the spur shank -- measuring about four inches in length -- ripped through the suspect's chin and tongue, becoming lodged in the roof of his mouth.

"The front of his head was just above my calf, so he got the full force of my kick," Schmidt said. "I was probably full of adrenalin. I know I picked him off the ground and when I removed the spur, I had to kick forward."

The two alleged assailants then fled the scene.

The Columbus Police Department lists the two suspects as black males, each about 5-foot-10 and weighing about 150 pounds. One of them is believed to be between 20 and 30 years old.

The case remains open, but inactive, according to Sgt. Rich Weiner, public information officer for the Columbus Police Department.

"We're still looking for information," he said. "If we do receive any information, we'll follow up on it."

Dallas and DaLayne Schmidt, who own Schmidt Performance Horses, a horse breeding and training facility overlooking the scenic Sheyenne River near Cooperstown, travel annually to the Columbus horse show. It is held at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

The hotel where they stayed is located between the fairgrounds and Ohio State University.

The 41-year-old Schmidt, who stands about 6 feet and weighs about 260 pounds, said he always has felt safe at the horse show and in the nearby neighborhood where several hotels are located, although locals have told him crime has increased in the area in recent years.

"Every year, we have had issues with the Quarter Horse Congress," Weiner said. "Most often, what we deal with is thefts from vehicles."

Until last year, when a would-be robber who broke into a guest's room in another nearby hotel was shot and killed by a woman who was staying there, reportedly with her daughter and granddaughter.

Schmidt grew up on another working horse ranch in rural Cooperstown. His wife grew up with horses, too, on a farm near Dazey, N.D., in northern Barnes County.

Dallas and DaLayne started their horse breeding and training ranch in 1995. He started competing in the NRHA national event in 2003.

Last year, Schmidt and his favorite reining horse, Rawhides Slvr Bullet -- owned by Joan and Kevin Sedivec, Cummings, N.D. -- earned the most reining points for adult competition in the American Quarter Horse Association competition.

And this month, he earned the NRHA Top Ten jacket in Columbus.

But he said he's received more attention since the attempted robbery than he has in his horse training career.

"It spread like wildfire," he said. "I'm just a cowboy. I get to make a living on horseback. The spurs are part of the attire. They're a tool we use to cue and train a horse. But I never thought I'd use them as a self-defense weapon."