When I called Kyle Lockett for this interview, he wasn't wrapping steers or driving to the next rodeo like so many other guys I call for this job--nope, he was finishing up some branding in soggy Visalia, Calif., where he lives with his family. He's spent years as an all-around cowboy at home since his last WNFR qualification in 2005. He's earned over $800,000 in ProRodeo competition, and with his CINCH Timed Event Earnings added in, he's definitely a million-dollar man who'd rather be with his family and his cattle than pounding the pavement on the rodeo trail.
Why do you compete in the Cinch Timed Event Championship?
I always grew up bull dogging, calf roping and team roping. If they gave me a chance I wanted to be part of it.
I blew out my knee in the bull dogging a couple years ago. I missed the barrier, had a steer that tried off to the left, and reached out to catch him. One leg went one way, one went the other. It just was bad when it hit.
What advice do you have to the Jr. Ironman contestants?
Don’t get mad at yourself. It’s not over until it’s over. You can always come back into it. A couple of runs later you’re right back in the middle of it, so don't let one bad run get you down.
What horses are you riding?
I’ve got my heel horse and calf horse. Hopefully the same roan horse of Shannon Stahl’s in the tripping, Jeff Ritchie’s head horse, and hopefully Jason Thomas’ bull dogging horse. That’s what I’m planning on at least.
Why should rodeo fans come to the Timed Event?
It’s better than the National Finals. The same guy does five events, and they’ve all got their good and bad events. It’s not over until the last steer on Sunday. A guy could have the lead and just need to get his last steer tripped and all of a sudden the top two could drop out and it's a whole new deal at the end. It’s exciting and it’s fun to watch everybody do five different events.
What's your worst event?
I think if a guy is going to go there, you better have a good tripping horse and a good calf horse. You can be 11 or 20 in the calf roping, or you can be 14 or 25. That makes a big difference. I do think everybody know nows they have to heel, and everybody has figured it out. Bull dogging, it has been the bad event with bad luck or weird stuff happening. For some reason the last couple years it has been. I still think the calf roping and the tripping is where you can really make a difference.
What do you do to prepare?
It’s kind of funny. I always used to be the younger guy there, and now I’m the old guy. Stuff hurts that didn’t used to. I’m trying to get my horses ready, and really get my calf horse in shape. I don’t do a whole lot as far as training because it does seem like the more I train the more things hurt. Basically, I just try to rope a little bit. I make sure my horses are ready for it. It’s been raining so much and so wet I haven’t hardly gotten to rope. I roped some calves last night and practiced my tripping loop. I’ll get a steer down here and tie him. I think, still, if you don’t beat yourself, you’ll have a chance to win some money. There’s been years I practiced like crazy and haven’t done good and years I didn’t practice at all and done great.