Lisa Lockhart – The one to watch
Lisa Lockhart traveled to work off the ranch 40 times during this past year, not knowing if she would be paid for her efforts. Not only that, she had to pay as much as $500 for the privilege of working. Lisa is one of 15 elite barrel racers who have earned a berth in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. On her third trip to the NFR, she is sitting in the middle of the pack at eighth place. With a payout of $17,000 for winning each round, the placings can easily change and the “world” is won during this week of rodeo.
Lisa and her husband Grady have three children – Alyssa, 11, Thane, 9, and Cade is 6. They attend school at nearby Oelrichs, SD which has a four day school week, making it easier for their travels. The kids have started in Little Britches Rodeo adding to the family activities. Alyssa now rides Sterling, the old gray horse on which Lisa made many great runs in recent years. Sharing a good horse is one example of how this family operates as a team.
Lisa talks of her immediate and extended families pulling together as key to her availability to compete. In the winter when Lisa has a rodeo, Grady usually stays at home for dad duty and livestock chores. Grady’s parents, Lori and Keith, live 20 miles up the road and they help out when Grady and Lisa both travel. When Grady and Lisa leave for the Finals a week before the competition, Lori comes down and stays with the kids and Keith does the chores. During the NFR, Lisa’s sister and husband, Angie and Ed Lockwood from Broadus, MT, take their two sons Jake and Jesse, as well as Alyssa, Thane and Cade to Las Vegas where they all take in the rodeo together. Lisa said, “It may be my name that is announced, but the family, the horses, we are all a team.”
In Lisa’s words, “I try to limit where I go and it is crucial that I win when I go. When we come home we have to take care of the ranch, ride other horses and follow our kids’ ventures. We pick and choose how long I’m going to be gone and which rodeos I am going to hit during that time frame.”
Lisa is no stranger to winning. In 2006 and 2008, she won the Canadian Finals. To qualify she had to place in at least 15 Canadian rodeos. “We’ve been to three NFRs and four Canadian Finals in a row. It’s been quite a whirlwind for the last few years. We couldn’t do it without family support.”
Lisa grew up on a family farm with some ranching near Circle, MT. Her main babysitter was a pony on which she spent many days. It worked out fine until Lisa made him jump the fence, then her mom always had to wonder where they were.
“Growing up, I knew I would always want to have an involvement with horses,” says Lisa. “I first pursued the pre-med field at Montana State University. My dad was in the hospital with cancer and I saw the dedication that those doctors had to their patients and with their careers. It made me think that as much as I loved horses, I just didn’t see where being a doctor and having time for horses would fit together. I graduated with a degree in elementary education and was able to continue with my desire to keep training horses.”
Grady and Lisa met at a rodeo in Taber, Alberta. Grady had recently moved back to South Dakota from Arizona with his family and went to Taber to rope. Lisa had been both a substitute teacher and a fulltime teacher along with her barrel racing after her college years. They married and settled near Oelrichs. When Alyssa came along Lisa became a fulltime mom who worked with her horses whenever she could.
Chisum, the horse on which she won the most money this year, is an 11-year-old chestnut gelding with the registered name of Fast and Gold. He excels in large arenas such as Greeley, CO, Cheyenne, WY and Ponoka, Alberta, all of which Lisa won this year. Nine-year-old chestnut mare, Bugs, registered name FCS Bugs Out of Sight, is another horse she rides. Lisa says Bugs is “determined and greedy and she gives 110 percent on each run. Louie is a young horse that I am working and training to have in my lineup for the future. We have a five horse trailer and when it leaves the yard, it is usually full. We put 60,000 miles on our pickup driving for just barrel racing this year.”
Lisa and Grady used to train horses for others, but with time constraints of such a busy family, they now train for themselves and the one outside client is Tim Bagnell from Montana. Lisa trained Chisum for Tim and ended up buying the horse, and the scenario was repeated with Grady’s roping horse. Grady generally brought in eight outside horses a year to train for roping and this was the first year Grady hasn’t taken any in. He was injured and had to take most of the summer off, yet when he started going again in August, he was strong enough to make the Badlands Circuit Finals. Grady also does the hoof trimming and horse shoeing.
Lisa has been a member of the Women’s Barrel Racing Association (WBRA) since the early 1980s. “The biggest change since I have been a professional barrel racer is the talent level. Just five years ago you could maybe count on two hands the number of horses that were really standouts and that’s not the case anymore. There are so many great horses and riders, the competition has become so fierce. The excellence in each individual event, whether it’s the calf roping, team roping or barrel racing is mind boggling. How much faster can it get? How much more perfection can there be?”
Even though she is a busy wife, mom, rancher and barrel racer, she also serves her community. Three years ago Lisa was asked if she would consider running for the school board. About that challenge she says, “In my ignorance of knowing what it involved, I said yes. I really did not know in-depth how much involvement it really is and how much work there really is. I thought, oh how hard can it be? It has been an eye-opening experience, how much the school board really has to do. I enjoy it, but wish it was at a different time in my life as I travel so much. I miss meetings and I don’t like that. I’m always available for conference calls when I’m gone. I’m a very dedicated and determined person and when I set my mind to do something, I want to do it and put 100 percent for it.”
This year the event will be held Dec. 3 through the 12th, with nine of the performances being televised live on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. Check your local listings for times.
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