Lisa Lockhart

Lisa Lockhart's prized horse Chisum is not at the National Finals Rodeo with the barrel racer this year. Lockhart, pictured in a file photo, is easing the 19-year-old chestnut gelding into retirement. 

CASEY RIFFE, Gazette Staff

BILLINGS — There are a lot of moving parts to “Team Lockhart,” a large group of family members at the National Finals Rodeo cheering their favorite barrel racer.

“We’ll have a menagerie of family there, coming in and out during the NFR,” said Lisa Lockhart, prior to leaving for Las Vegas for her 11th consecutive NFR. “I’m not sure who will be here when. We’re a fly by the seat of our pants family.”

But one important member of “Team Lockhart” is missing.

Chisum, one of Lockart’s prized horses, is back in Oelrichs, South Dakota. It is the first time Lockhart has left Chisum home since she first qualified for the NFR 11 years ago.

Lockhart primarily used Chisum at the larger, outdoor arenas during the summer during his career.

“He’s the one who got me here. He got the whole thing started,” said Lockhart of the 19-year-old chestnut gelding. “We’re easing him into retirement.”

MPRF vet honored

Dr. Jerry Billquist thought his opportunity had passed him by.

Having been nominated three times previously and not at all in 2016, the Montana native thought he would never been honored as the PRCA Zoetis Veterinarian of the Year.

Billquist, who lives in Boerne, Texas, but still has a ranch in Montana, received the award for all the work he does every year for the Montana Pro Finals in Great Falls.

Billquist was nominated by the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Committee.

“I was pretty overwhelmed,” Billquist told the ProRodeo Sports News on receiving the award. “It’s been something I’d have loved to win and I’ve been a finalist three times. We skipped last year (being nominated). I thought, ‘Well, my window of opportunity has passed.’

“But it didn’t. It’s really quite an honor.”

Billquist has been helping at the MPRF — at his expense — for the past 26 years.

His roots in Montana run deep. According to the ProRodeo Sports News story, Billquist’s parents, Ole and Avalon, were inducted into the Montana State 4-H Hall of Fame Foundation in 2006. His father Ole, who passed away in 2011, announced the 4-H rodeo in Whitehall for 52 years. Billquist’s mother Avalon is 91.

Whitaker repeats

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The Linderman Award recognizes excellence at both end of the rodeo arena.

From that standpoint, Kyle Whitaker has been pretty darn good.

The Chambers, Nebraska, cowboy won one of the PRCA’s most difficult awards to achieve for a third straight year and a record ninth-time in his career. Whitaker won his first Lindeman Award 20 years ago.

His father Chip Whitaker is a four-time (1975, 1977-9) winner.

To qualify for the Linderman Award, a cowboy must earn a minimum of $1,000 in three events — including one roughstock and one timed event.

Whitaker won the bulk of his money in steer wrestling ($51,233), along with money in tie-down roping ($9,666) and saddle bronc riding ($3,740).

The Linderman Award is named for ProRodeo Hall of Fame cowboy Bill Linderman of Red Lodge. Linderman won six world titles during his career, including two in all-around (1950, 1953) and saddle bronc riding (1945, 1950) and one each in bareback (1943) and steer wrestling (1950).

Linderman died in a 1965 plane crash near Salt Lake City. The first Linderman was won by Benny Reynolds of Melrose in 1966. Bob Schall of Arlee won the award in 1986.

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