Oelrichs Barrel Racing Champion’s Passion for Horses Pays Off
Lisa Lockhart may live in a small town, but she has accomplished big things. The professional barrel racer from Oelrichs has racked up many impressive rodeo wins, yet family is her most cherished victory.
“I consider myself a wife, mom, and barrel racer,” she says. “Family is of utmost importance to me.”
A Rodeo Pedigree
Lisa and husband Grady, a calf and team roper whom she met on the rodeo circuit, own a ranch 12 miles east of Oelrichs. The cow and calf operation numbers about 150 head — small by ranch standards, but enough to keep them busy. The 30 head of horses and abundant supply of roping cattle are an added bonus for this rodeo-loving family. She first started competing at the age of five, inspired by two older sisters who dabbled in the sport. Her nephew is Jess Lockwood, two-time Professional Bull Riders World Champion.
Lisa and Grady’s passion has rubbed off on their kids. Daughter Alyssa is attending college in Texas, where she is involved in barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying while pursuing a master’s degree. Son Thane is currently in his second year in college — also in Texas — and participates in calf and team roping events. Cade, their youngest, is a junior in high school. He has recently taken up roping again after a break from rodeo and is working harder than ever to catch up.
“Watching my kids has been awesome,” Lisa says. “Having them involved is pretty special. We always told them you don’t have to do rodeo — stick with what makes you happy — but if you want to, we’ll help you to the best of our abilities.”
“I Love the Journey!”
Lisa, currently preparing for competition at the Black Hills Stock Show, has certainly had a successful career in barrel racing. She’s qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) by finishing in the top 15 of barrel racers for the last 14 years. Her impressive list of wins includes the NFR Average Champion (twice), American Rodeo (twice), RAM National Finals Circuit Rodeo, Calgary Stampede, Black Hills Roundup, and many more. While the awards mean a lot to her, they’re secondary to the overall experience.
“Accolades are great, but they’re just part of the journey,” she says — and that is what she finds most inspirational. “I just love the journey! It’s a rollercoaster; you have to be along for the whole ride, both the ups and downs. Sometimes just having your first clear run after you’ve hit some barrels, that’s monumental whether you win or lose. The victories, though they may be small sometimes, are definitely victories.”
Such humble words aren’t surprising given that Lisa is able to earn a living doing something that she loves.
“I’ve had a great passion for horses all my life,” she explains. “I’m competitive by nature and love working with horses, so it’s a win-win situation. I don’t consider barrel racing a job; I really enjoy my work and being able to integrate it with ranch life.”
Despite her success, Lisa wouldn’t dream of living anywhere but Oelrichs. “Rural community life is all I’ve ever known,” she says. “I can’t imagine it any other way. We always joke when we’re in the cities, ‘where are all these people going?’”
Lisa’s workload varies by season; the professional stock show circuit keeps her busy during the winter months, but she shies away from west coast events in the spring, opting to stay closer to home. July and August pick up again in the Midwest. She has a fondness for large venues and high stakes events and counts the Calgary Stampede and Cheyenne Frontier Days among her favorites.
Those aspiring to compete in rodeo can approach it from different aspects, Lisa says. Some do it for fun while others are more competitive. She is quick to stress that the lifestyle isn’t always glamorous.
“A lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into it,” she says. “There’s so much work behind the scenes. Having horses and traveling with them is a ton of work, period. No, exclamation point! But if it’s what you want, do it … and have no regrets!”