Kusek column: Lockhart keeps racing while horse Louie recovers

2014-06-07T18:45:00Z 2014-06-09T09:38:21Z Kusek column: Lockhart keeps racing while horse Louie recovers The Billings Gazette
June 07, 2014 6:45 pm

Lisa Lockhart went north this weekend, competing at three Canadian rodeos.

For almost a decade, the South Dakota barrel racer has started her summer rodeo season across the border in June.

“Canada is important to me,” said Lockhart, a three-time Canadian Pro Rodeo champion.

But this trip was a little different.

Lockhart is traveling without Louie, the superstar buckskin gelding that has carried her to four consecutive top-five finishes in the WPRA world standings.

Since 2010, Lockhart and Louie have earned more than $700,000 together, including almost $400,000 at the last four National Finals Rodeos in Las Vegas.

Louie is at home in Oelrichs, S.D., this weekend recovering from surgery, and he’ll remain home the rest of the summer.

This winter, Louie vaulted Lockhart to the top of the 2014 world standings and a life-changing $100,000 victory at The American, an invitation-only rodeo in Dallas.

“Phenomenal,” is how Lockhart described her winter rodeo run. “I feel very fortunate. It was very rewarding.

“With The American, you

weren’t sure what to expect. Nobody did. Being the inaugural one, it was pretty cool to be part of it. The caliber of the event was spectacular. I think it surpassed expectations.

“The NFR is a grinding 10 days. You work so hard for 10 days, it feels like a month. This happened so fast. That win, that’s a great season right there.”

The win in Dallas brought no crazy purchases.

“We bought some equipment we needed for around the place,” Lockhart said. “And we talked about doing something as a family. But we’ve been so busy with high school rodeos, junior rodeos and track meets this spring. It’s hard to get us all together at one time. I’m sure we’ll do something.”

The Circle native closed out the month of March with a second-place finish for $29,000 at RodeoHouston. The money won at Houston counts in the WPRA world standings. It does not count for the male PRCA competitors.

“That was huge,” Lockhart said of the five-figure payday in Texas.

It was also Louie’s last barrel run.

He suffered a stifle injury on his hind leg that required surgery in Colorado. The stifle is a knee-like set of bones up toward the horse’s hip.

“He had some issues with it before,” said Lockhart of the ligament and tendon damage. “I have full confidence that Louie will make a complete recovery.”

Lockhart is back to riding Chism, a 16-year-old horse that she also rode during the summer rodeos. She will also take a younger horse along.

Lockhart and Chism won the recent World Champions Challenge in Spanish Fork, Utah for another $5,440.

“The old-timer still has it,” Lockhart said with a laugh. “Don’t count him out.”

Entering the weekend, Lockhart led the world standings with $64,242 won at 15 rodeos.

“We just keep plugging along,” she said.

With Louie out, there was some family discussion about Lockhart keeping her schedule more regional. But the schedule will remain the same.

“This is my job,” she said.

After Canada, Lockhart will return home to watch oldest daughter Alyssa compete in the South Dakota High School Finals Rodeo in Belle Fourche, S.D. “I am not going to miss that,” Lockhart said firmly.

Then it’s back out on the road to chase an eighth consecutive trip to the NFR.

“I have full confidence in Chism,” said Lockhart. “These things happen. You just have to put your head down and keep working.”

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