Was it a ho hum affair?
No way, says Lisa Lockhart, who completed her 11th consecutive National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas on Saturday night by ranking among the world’s best barrel racers again.
The Oelrichs cowgirl and mother of three teen-agers said she was thrilled with her results, never gets tired of riding her faithful horse Louie in the Thomas and Mack Center and is anxious to try making it 12 NFRs in a row in 2018.
While Lockhart didn’t finish quite as high in the final standings as she has in the recent past, she said she was not disappointed with the results in the least.
“Things could have been a whole lot worse,” she noted. “It was another great rodeo for us.”
Lisa and Louie received a check for placing among the top six in six of the 10 go-rounds, finished third in the averages and placed seventh in the world standings with 2017 earnings of $203,550.
More than half the total was won during the finals.
The pair’s highest placing was in Round 5, when they scooted around the barrels in 13.59 seconds to share first and second place. That was worth $23,480. They also were fourth once, fifth once and sixth four times.
Best of all, they left all 30 barrel upright and their average time of 13.81 seconds netted them $43,153.85, the check that goes to the third place finisher in the averages in each event when the extravaganza is completed.
Just two of the remaining 15 barrel racers completed all 10 runs without toppling a barrel. They are Nellie Miller of Cottonwood, Calif., and Ivy Conrado of Hudson, Colo., with average runs of 13.72 and 13.74 seconds. Miller also emerged as the 2017 world champion with total earnings of $308,498 and Conrado came in fifth with $232,521.
Lisa and Louie were the only entries to leave all the barrels standing a year ago, when they won the averages in 13.79 seconds per run and were third in the world standings. They also were finished third in the world in 2013 and were second in both 2014 and ’15.
She said this was probably the first year three contestants left all the barrels upright. Lockhart also won the averages in 2014 in 14.49 seconds, including the five-second penalty for knocking over one barrel.
The runner-up in the 2017 world standings was Hailey Kinsel of Cotulla, Texas, also this year’s barrel racing Rookie of the Year, with earnings of $288,092. She set the Thomas and Mack record of 13.11 seconds in Round 3 and had another run of 13.17 seconds in Round 10 on Saturday night, but also wiped out two barrels during the rodeo.
Maybe the most surprising stat this year may be that just five of last year’s qualifiers were among this year’s top 15. It’s a tough event that takes a toll on both the horses and the riders, but Lisa and Louie persist.
Lockhart noted this was Louie’s eighth straight national finals, meaning he’s run the cloverleaf pattern in Thomas and Mack 80 times. Now 14, he’s perhaps of the oldest of the barrel horses, but his master thinks he’s plenty capable of being her primary mount again in 2018.
“I’ll probably ride my younger horses more this coming year, but I expect Louie will still be the main one,” she said. “We know he can still do it.”
Lockhart said she’s already entered the National Western Rodeo in Denver that begins on Jan. 12 and plans to enter several of the big Texas rodeos and the Rapid City Stock Show and Rodeo that will be later in the month.