EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a story that appears in the July edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA.
As oftentimes is the case, ProRodeo’s elite tend to be atop the leaderboard. There’s a reason why many of the same ladies return to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo every December.
Such was the case during the June run of WPRA Qualifying Tour events, where two-time world champion Brittany Pozzi continued a torrid streak and six-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Lisa Lockhart collected a large check in addition to a key victory.
Pozzi, who leads the tour standings with 42 points as of June 17, won the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte, Neb., in mid-June with a 17.40-second run, more than two-tenths of a second faster than runner-up Wanda Brown. Pozzi added to her points with a third-place finish at the Daines Ranch Rodeo in Innisfail, Alberta, the same week, posting a 15.668, just a breath behind Lockhart and runner-up Cheryl Daines.
Pozzi, a nine-time Wrangler NFR qualifier from Victoria, Texas, also earned tour points with a second-place finish in Guymon, Okla., the first weekend in May. In North Platte, she bested a talented group of cowgirls and collected $2,284 – she also won $5,530 at Innisfail.
By mid-June, she was the fifth-ranked cowgirl in the WPRA world standings. Lockhart is No. 3 in the world standings, and the $8,507 check she earned by winning Innisfail is a good reason why.
“It was a very tough barrel race, cut that so often is the case when you get so many girls,” said Lockhart, of Oelrichs, S.D. “It’s a tough set up when you consider that first barrel in there. It’s a smaller to mid-size arena, and sometimes that tightens some things up.”
It was especially tight. Lockhart’s winning time of 15.611 was just ahead of Daines’ .640, while Aimee Kay posted a .691. Then-world standings leader Fallon Taylor of Whitesboro, Texas, posted a 15.915 to finish 15th. The pay in Innisfail also was an attractive feature; Taylor’s take for finishing in the bottom money position was $425.
It’s all very important when it comes to those who make their livings on the rodeo trail.
“I think the numbers were down a little bit, because last year I won $8,300 for second at Innisfail,” Lockhart said. “But it’s a great rodeo, and to win that and win that kind of money this year is amazing. I was doing hand springs, figuratively, not literally.”
Lockhart has been racing Fast An Gold, a 15-year-old chestnut gelding she calls Chism. He was the guiding force behind her run for a long time, but she’s also got An Oakie With Cash, a 10-year-old buckskin gelding she calls Louie. She’s leaned more on Chism recently while Louie recovered from some health issues.
“He’s feeling good,” she said of the older gelding. “I’ve had to run him quite a bit this year, but he’s not really my backup; he’s equally part of the team. I typically don’t run him outdoors or in bigger pens, so he’s my guy in the winter. With Louie being hurt this year, Chism’s had to step into both categories.”
It seems to be working quite well. The win in Innisfail is key for Lockhart because points earned count for both the Wrangler NFR and the Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifications. Lockhart is a three-time Canadian champion, so making the trip to Edmonton is quite valuable to her.
“My goal is to qualify for the Canadian Finals again,” Lockhart said. “It’s been a huge part of my life, and it would be great to have an eighth CFR qualification.”
The first time she qualified for the Canadian Finals, Lockhart became the first cowgirl from the United States to win the coveted championship. Returning to Edmonton is definitely a goal, just as is qualifying for Las Vegas.
“I’m going to go where I want, and what will be will be,” she said. “I’m not real good about chasing some of the extra things that come along. I’ll go to the same places that I like and that my horses like. I try to stay within that mindset. If it’s somewhere typically I don’t like or my horse doesn’t like, then it probably wouldn’t be a good outcome anyway.”
The rodeo schedule is tough, especially on a family. The miles on the rodeo trail equal time away from home and from some of the other activities that come along. When you’ve got a couple teenagers and one just a few years away from his teen years, there is great potential to miss quite a bit more.
Lockhart and her husband, Grady, have three children: Alyssa, 15; Thane, 13; and Cade, 10. The Daines Ranch Rodeo win meant so much to Lisa Lockhart that she adjusted her schedule a little bit.
“Part of the deal when I left was that if I did well at Innisfail, I would come home,” she said. “Chism held up his end of the deal, and I did, too. That enabled me to be home for all of my daughter’s high school finals rodeo instead of just part of it.”
Family is important to the Lockharts, and so is being there for one another. That’s why she turned out of a couple other co-sanctioned rodeos in Alberta to spend quality time with Grady and the kids.
“We take it year by year,” she said, referring to how long she plans to continue to chase the qualifications to the season-ending championships. “I like to stay closer to home for a lot of reasons, but as each new year starts, it’s a family decision.
“I think if we can continue to do this the way we’ve done it, then I don’t see myself slowing down that much. It’s difficult to miss things; I want to miss as little as possible, but if we can do it and have success going minimally, I’d be crazy not to.”
After all, she’s got a lot of support from her family and a lot of help from Chism and Louie.
“I’ve always said that I either use my horses or I sell them, and I don’t see me selling them,” Lockhart said.