Calgary Herald

Veteran barrel racer eyes first grand prize


She’s been doing this for years. Meaning she knows the formula.

Do it well enough, do it often enough — and cash will find you.

And through Lisa Lockhart’s barrel-racing career, the dollars have beat a well-worn path to her barn, despite modest beginnings.

“I started doing this when I was six years old, competing and going to things,” says Lockhart, a native of Wolf Point, Mont., a resident of Oelrichs, S.D. “So, as kids, it’s more about prizes than it was money. “That was a long time ago.” No matter. She’s managed to make her livelihood a rich one, in every meaning of the word.

Lockhart, a couple of years ago, galloped past the $1 million plateau in earnings — the first barrel-racer from Montana to do so. Is seven digits’ worth of winnings a significan­t benchmark?

“Not really,” says the 48 year old, “because it’s been accumulate­d over the years. But to be put in a category with some of those prestigiou­s barrel-racers that I looked up to, whether it be Charmayne James or Kristie Peterson or Sherry Cervi, all those world champions. So to be put in that elite group? Yeah, it’s definitely an honour. Pretty cool.

“Something I would never have imagined accomplish­ing.”

Imagine her thrill earlier this spring.

Having one day’s work equal $100,000.

At RFD-TV’s The American rodeo in Dallas, the first go-round pared the select field of 21 riders to four. A one-ride showdown determined the big winner, which turned out to be Lockhart. Ka-ching. “The intensity of that rodeo was pretty amazing — everything shook out in one single day rather than over the course of a week or more,” says Lockhart. “It was very exciting. It just happened to be my day. Amazing. An amazing day. Absolutely surreal. Those kind of days? Obviously, once in a lifetime. So, yeah, pretty surreal.”

Easy to fight off the distractio­n of the giant jackpot?

“Yes and no,” she replies. “I try to stay pretty focused because, whether we’re running for $1,000 or $100,000, you’ve still got to go do your job. So that’s the perspectiv­e ... although I’m sure there were a few more butterflie­s in my stomach. But for the most part it’s the same thing — you’ve got to go do your job, no matter what the stakes are.”

Lockhart used the payout to buy a few things for around the ranch — “That we wouldn’t have purchased otherwise” — and now there’s a vacation in the works. Sort of.

“But the way this family is? It’s so busy,” says Lockhart, whose crew includes husband Grady and children Alyssa, Thane and Cade. “With our crazy schedule ... but I’m not saying it’s still not in the back of our minds to try to sneak (a holiday) in there.”

Ahead is another $100,000 cheque for Lockhart. That is, if she and Chism, her 15-year-old chestnut gelding, can grab it.

Lockhart, despite seven visits to the Calgary Stampede, has never managed to latch onto the grand prize. But more than once she’s raced in the final four.

“Just making it to (the top 10 for) Championsh­ip Sunday is such a great feat,” says Lockhart, a fourtime Canadian Profession­al Rodeo Associatio­n titlist — 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013. “That still eludes me, that championsh­ip.”

But that’s not to say she doesn’t dig the rodeo here.

“The enormity of it, the amount of people. There’s not a person in the world who doesn’t know what the Calgary Stampede is. That’s what makes it so special in its own right.”

While her career shows no signs of slowing — even after a 21-year run as a member of the Women’s Profession­al Rodeo Associatio­n — she’s added another element.

Spectator. Scratch that — nervous spectator.

Daughter Alyssa is an accomplish­ed barrel-racer who just qualified for the national high school championsh­ips, July 13-19, in Rock Springs, Wyo. Meanwhile, Son Thane — at the American junior high finals last week in Des Moines, Iowa — competed in calf-roping and goat-tying.

“Ultimately it’s up to them,” Lockhart says of the rodeo life. “Yes, there are pros and cons. If they ever chose to do it as a profession — like it has turned out for me — I think there’s a lot of great things about it. So I’m thrilled that they’re interested.”

However, as Lockhart has learned, being relaxed in the saddle does not necessary equate to being calm in the bleachers.

“Not very good — an absolute wreck,” she says, laughing, of her in-rodeo demeanour. “It’s extremely hard on me. A lot harder than if I was competing myself.”

 ?? Stuart Gradon/Calgary Herald ?? In her eighth appearance, Lisa Lockhart is looking to win the barrel racing competitio­n at the Calgary Stampede for the first time.
Stuart Gradon/Calgary Herald In her eighth appearance, Lisa Lockhart is looking to win the barrel racing competitio­n at the Calgary Stampede for the first time.

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