By Laura Lambert
As the saying goes, "When you're hot, you're hot!" Lisa Lockhart and Louie are smoking hot right now! Coming off her second $100,000 win at The American, Lockhart and her incredible horse An Oakie with Cash took the first place payoff check of round one at the Ram National Circuit Finals in Kissimmee, Fla.
Lockhart's run of 16.44 was just a tick of the clock faster than Lindsay Kruse's 16.45 for second place. Interestingly, both of those cowgirls have roots in Montana. Lockhart grew up in Circle, Mont., while Kruse currently resides in Winston. Lockhart's appearance here though comes by way of winning the Badlands Circuit for 2014 – for the fourth consecutive year.
Truthfully there are cowgirls from all across the country at the RNCFR. In fact, that's the actual definition of the event. There are two cowgirls from each of the 12 circuits who qualified to make their appearance down the alley in Kissimmee.
The first round checks were spread out among four different circuits with Montana and the Great Lakes circuits picking up two. The payoff for the first round was: 1. Lisa Lockhart (Badlands), 16.44 seconds, $6,182; 2. Lindsay Kruse (Montana), 16.45, $4,683; 3. Natalie Foutch (Great Lakes), 16.49, $3,372; 4. Nancy Hunter (Wilderness), 16.53, $2,248; 5. Carmel Wright (Montana), 16.54, $1,311; 6. Cheyenne (Shipps) Schnelle (Great Lakes), 16.59, $937.
Where you are from happens to matter when you show up at the RNCFR as each of the circuits is competing for the circuit championship to be awarded at the conclusion of the rodeo. The circuit who does the best at the RNCFR leaves with a bronze and a lot of bragging rights for the next year.
Florida will be the home of the RNCFR for the next 10 years and it appears as though the inaugural set of cowboys and cowgirls are taking full advantage of being in an area with so many attractions. Cowgirls have already had the opportunity to participate in many events including a "Wild Florida" trip, theme park attractions, and a Give the Kids the World rodeo. Many more events are scheduled for the next several days that the contestants are already talking about attending!
Speaking of hot, a few of the horses are having to make quite an adjustment while here as well. With temperatures ranging from the high 70s to even the high 80s, some of the equine athletes are wondering what in the world happened! Coming from places like Montana and Iowa whose average temperatures over the last month have been closer to the 20s and 30s, the horses are sweating just standing around in their pens. Plenty of shade, water and fans have been taken advantage of to keep the athletes feeling their best!
With nearly $19,000 in prize money available, you can bet the cowgirls are pampering their horses and getting ready for Round 2 of the RNCFR.
The tournament-style RNFCR format determines the national circuit champions in each event. All 24 qualifiers from the 12 circuits compete in the two preliminary rounds of the rodeo. The top eight contestants from each event advance to the semifinal round, with all previous scores and times thrown out. The top four move on to the final round, a sudden-death competition that determines the national circuit champion in each event. Because the top four contestants begin that final round with a clean slate, each one has an equal opportunity to claim an RNCFR title.
Event winners each receive a $20,000 voucher toward the purchase of a new RAM Truck and a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle in addition to their winnings.
Wrangler Network is airing live webcasts of the rodeo's first four performances and, after the event, highlights from the RNCFR will be televised on CBS Sports Net; see ProRodeo.com/TV for the telecast schedule. Round 2 kicks off Friday night at 7:30 pm Eastern.
For more information and an event schedule visit www.rncfr.com.