Lisa Lockhart

Unexpected Surprise

Lockhart Lands Third Average World Title After Action Packed 10th Round

By Joe Kusek

Photo by Kenneth Springer

Lisa Lockhart and her horse Levee were almost at the warm-up tent when Grady Lockhart tugged at her sleeve to get his wife to stop.

Lisa Lockhart

Photo by Kenneth Springer

“You’ve won the average. Get back out there,” said her husband, motioning toward the loud arena and the victory lap horse.

Lockharts were just as stunned as everybody else inside the sold-out Thomas and Mack Center.

Lisa Lockhart

Photo by Kenneth Springer

Lisa Lockhart

Photo by Kenneth Springer

In just minutes, Lisa Lockhart vaulted from fourth to first to win the barrel racing average at the 65th Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge.

            “I was getting ready to take the horse back to the trailer,” said the horsewoman from Oelrichs, South Dakota. “How quickly things change.”

            Lockhart and her talented seven-year-old gray gelding made 10 clean runs in 137.18 seconds to earn $209,096 at professional rodeo’s premier event. She won the final round in a time of 13.54 seconds as the icing on the cake. She also won the third round in a time of 13.51 seconds. When all things were tabulated, Lockhart finished as reserve world champion in the final standings with $343,688.

            In the ninth round, the 17-time Wrangler NFR qualifier became the WPRA’s career money leader with a second-place finish.

            Lockhart has earned $3,510,066 since joining the WPRA in 1993. She passed four-time world champion Sherry Cervi ($3,388,790) while new world champion Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi is third with $3,348,318.

            The mother of three is also the WPRA’s career money leader at the Wrangler NFR with $1,712,318 won under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

            “Thirty years ago, when I got my pro card, there were no goals of this magnitude in mind,” said Lockhart. “It was just ‘Work hard and be the best you can be.’ And I’m still working at it every day.”

            That work ethic put her in position for a wild finish.

            Entering the 10th round, only .98 seconds separated Tonozzi, Kassie Mowry, Jordon Briggs and Lockhart in the average.

            Lockhart, the second one out, opened with a time of 13.54 seconds. “I wasn’t sure if 13.5 was going to hold up and place,” she said.

            Mowry, Tonozzi and Briggs followed and all uncharacteristically had downed barrels, allowing Lockhart to climb the average standings.

            “A lot transpired in 10 minutes. This is pretty emotional because it was such a surprise,” said a teary-eyed Lockhart, trying to digest the massive momentum shift. “Obviously, it means more when it’s unexpected. The element of surprise is rewarding itself.

            “I know how hard it (the average title) is to attain. It means that we were rewarded for our effort. It has been a good journey.”

            The 2023 NFR average title was Lockhart’s third in her illustrious career with the other two coming in 2014 and 2016.

            “I could have never scripted this,” continued Lockhart. “Winning the round, average and reserve in the world was totally unexpected.”

            Lockhart entered the Wrangler NFR fifth in the world standings. After opening with a time of 14.16 seconds, her last nine runs were all sub-14-seconds with a differential of just .55 seconds.

            She and Levee placed in seven rounds, winning rounds three and 10. Their best time was 13.41 seconds which placed second in the ninth round.

            “Levee just got stronger as the NFR went on,” Lockhart said of the horse registered Promise Me Fame Guys by Aint Seen Nothin Yet and out of Bar Blue Lass.

            Lockhart and Levee have put together 19 flawless runs the past two years at the Thomas and Mack Center and have earned $377,422. The pair also won the Badlands Circuit Finals title in November.

            Lockhart’s two previous average titles came aboard superstar horse Louie. Lockhart ran Louie 85 times at the NFR.

            “It’s a huge accomplishment to do it on another horse and he did it well,” said Lockhart of Levee. “I am blessed to have a horse so consistent. He’s an even-keel horse. Levee is the model of consistency. He never surprises me and that’s what I love about him.”

            She plans to keep that average buckle close.

            “It usually goes to the trophy room,” Lockhart said. “I might wear this one for a while. It was a special year.”

            And fans can expect those earnings records to keep growing. She has no plans of hanging up the reins.

            “Why not? The horses are still young,” she said of Levee, Cutter and Rosa. “I remember the first time leaving Las Vegas and turning to Grady. ‘I want to come back,’ I told him.

            “I’ve been doing this a long time. That’s the goal. I want to come back.”

            Only Charmayne James and Sherry Cervi have competed at more NFRs with 19, so that is yet another record Lockhart will be aiming at in the coming years.

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(719) 447-4627
(719) 447-4631 (fax)

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