BALGONIE, Sask. — Staying on task is the key that allows Lisa and Walt Lockie’s family to complete their farm work.
It’s the time of year when life revolves around getting the chores done at home so that weekends can be spent at high school rodeos throughout Saskatchewan.
“I’m all about routine,” said Lisa Lockie. “I have to plan every night of the week.”
The routine starts on Sunday when the family empties the horse trailer after getting home late from a rodeo.
Monday nights involve laundry and cleaning out the trailer.
On Tuesday evening the family rides and practices rodeo events such as pole bending, barrel racing, roping and goat tying.
Meals are organized on Wednesday.
The horses, tack, food and clothes are packed up again on Thursday night, and the family is rodeo bound Friday.
“When high school rodeo season is on, that’s what our lives are, and we have to be on that routine,” she said.
The fall rodeos run for five consecutive weekends in August and September throughout the province. Junior high school involves grades six to eight and senior high school is grades nine to 12.
Spring rodeos start in May and run into June.
Lisa and Walt, together with their children Shelby, 15, Tanner, 12, and Payton,7, live on land first homesteaded by Lisa’s grandparents.
The Lockies moved into the brick farmhouse soon after getting married in 1997 and slowly renovated the now century-old property.
The couple first met at a Canadian Cowboy Association rodeo in Saskatchewan the previous year: Lisa was running barrels and Walt was riding broncs.
Rodeo and the relationships formed from it have continued to directly influence their lives.
“Rodeo has opened so many doors for us,” Walt said.
“Everything of mine is through rodeo.”
They slowly built their 75 head Black Angus commercial herd because of a rodeo connection that allowed them to get cows on shares. Walt’s off-farm job is also a result of a rodeo contact.
This time of year is particularly busy for the family. Between off-farm jobs and weekends spent rodeoing, there’s also hay that needs to be put up.
“We have pretty big expectations for our kids during the week.… They’ve got to get all their stuff done during the week so we can go,” said Walt.
“They have to help check cows, make sure there’s feed loaded and everything is done. We’ve always told them that if they help us, then we help them back. There’s a re-ward for their work.”
Participating in junior high school rodeo was a natural progression for the family when Shelby started barrel racing in 2011. That year she won a saddle in the event.
“We didn’t know she would do as well as she did right off the bat,” he said.
Added Lisa: “I think the fire ignited in her at that point, and we just knew a lot of other families that had high school rodeod.”
Now in his second year, Tanner is competing at the junior high school level and was a season leader for goat tying as well as a Canadian champion for team roping.
The Lockies look forward to their weekend trips, describing the organization as an extended family.
“It’s a good bunch of kids and parents. It’s fun to go because you all have the same interests,” said Walt.
“Everybody takes care of everybody else’s kids and watches out for them. It’s a good atmosphere that way.”
Added Lisa: “All the families have stories just like us. A lot of them work off or they operate a ranch. There’s other common interests outside of rodeo too that we have with the parents and the kids have with other kids too.”
In order to compete in the rodeo, students must maintain good grades at school as well as acceptable behavior.
“I like the fact that it’s tied to their education,” said Lisa.
“They know that there are scholarships on the line when they graduate from Grade 12.”
There are also many opportunities for parents to become involved. Walt is a director on the Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association executive board, and Lisa is an event director for pole bending.
“We’re pretty deeply rooted helping out that way, and we really like it,” said Walt.
Students also have the opportunity to get involved beyond competing. Tanner is an event director for chute dogging, and Shelby is secretary for the student executive.
Just like at home, the needs of the animals come first during rodeos.
“On the road, the kids are re-sponsible for feeding, watering and taking care of them, for sure morning, noon and night,” said Walt.
Added Lisa: “I think that also teaches. The kids learn responsibility and commitment.”
Rodeo participants are also required to help during the event, such as setting up barrels and poles.
Events included chute dogging, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, tie down roping, ribbon roping, team roping, bull riding, barrel racing, bareback, pole bending and goat tying.
“The kids learn so much in terms of technique, and there are people there to help them,” said Lisa.
“It’s the values that they learn too that you can’t put a price on.”
Walt said participants aim to win, but it’s not “cutthroat” aggressive.
“It’s the kind of competitive that you have a good run and tell your friend to have a better run,” said Shelby. “Like you want to do well but you want them too as well.”