Lisa Lockhart reflects on her race to the wire to secure her 16th NFR qualification in 2022.
Lisa Lockhart clinched her 16th NFR qualification in dramatic fashion in a photo-finish end to the 2022 ProRodeo season.
The moment it happened.
All eyes were on the final performance of the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas, where Lockhart and multiple other bubble contenders were entered. In the warm-up arena, Lockhart was relaxed, towards the front of the pen standing beside Promise Me Fame Guys, “Levee,” and her husband, Grady.
Cheyenne Wimberley was poised at the back of the pen sitting aboard her grey gelding, and Michelle Darling was walking circles with Martini in the wings. One may have been able to hear a pin drop in that arena.
Nobody was acting malicious towards another, but each cowgirl was laser-focused on their own horse and game plan. They all knew that day could determine who earned the No. 14 and 15 positions and head to the Thomas and Mack.
Fast forward to the bottom of the performance. All three cowgirls made jam-up runs, but Lockhart’s third-place finish in the event meant that she had bested Darling, Wimberley and Paige Jones out for the slot. She moved to 14th in the standings and bumped Leslie Smalygo to No. 15, meaning that her friends were out. Lockhart had an incredible week, placing at six out of all six rodeos she attended after flying and driving thousands of miles with Grady and her friend, Jackie Woolman.
The best moment?
When asked what her favorite moment of the 2022 season was, Lockhart responded,
“Stephenville, I think because of the magnitude of it,” Lockhart said. “Just how it played out—I didn’t really have those expectations. Not that I didn’t know it was in there or that (Levee) couldn’t do it, but for him to step up and save one of his best runs for the last run was just icing on the cake.”
The 2022 season looks very different from her 2007 season, where Lockhart knew she had punched her first NFR ticket shortly after Caldwell, Idaho, in August. After 16 of those “you’re in!” moments, it begs the question if the feeling of knowing you are Las Vegas bound ever fades.
“It’s just as great, and I think having to work harder for it has actually been good for me,” Lockhart said. “I have so much memorabilia. My whole life, everything in my house, my trailer, my tack—it all reminds me of these trips. When you start thinking you don’t get another one, it just hits home, like all good things come to an end. Maybe that fueled my fire a little bit, too.”
Note: On top of her incredible finish, Lockhart won the second round of the Badlands Circuit Finals last night (October 15) with a 13.72-second run and unofficially crossed the $3 million dollar mark in her WPRA career earnings—a threshold only crossed by multiple-time world champion, Sherry Cervi, previously. All eyes will be on Lockhart as she goes into the final round .11 ahead of Nikki Hansen on Sunday, October 16. BRM will be keeping up as the official earnings roll in and that story develops.
Lockhart struggled throughout the season due to Rosas Cantina CC, “Rosa,” being out for a critical month on the injured list. Rosa is back and healthy now, but Lockhart went through a struggle that many barrel racers can identify with—the seasoning of a rodeo green horse. Levee, a 2016 gelding, struggled at first to adapt to the rodeo scene. Lockhart struggled mentally at certain points throughout the season, as well.
“The struggle is real,” Lockhart said. “It’s real for all of us. There are going to be horses that humble you, make you want to pull your hair out, make you think you can’t ever win again. And then you do. I always say it’s a rollercoaster ride. You’ve got to be in it for the whole ride and you just have to keep working, moving forward and figuring things out. It’s a humbling and frustrating process, but we all go through it.
Pick Your Poison: The Ultimate List of 2022’s NFR-Qualifying Barrel Horses
As she reflected on her crazy end to the ProRodeo Regular season, Lockhart mentioned that the entire community—not just her inner circle–seemed to come out of the woodworks and band together to support her. As “good luck,” texts and encouraging messages poured in, Lockhart was locked in, energy drink driven and focused on her goal.
“When push comes to shove, sometimes you do it because you want to, because you want something badly enough,” Lockhart said. “I mean—it was the less desirable way to do it, especially knowing that I’ve done it the other way—but you just look at one decision to the next, as to whether or not you’ll try it. That carrot just kept dangling and I figured, let’s just go another week and see what happens.”
Look back on the final, wild week in the 2022 ProRodeo regular season here.