By: Justin Felisko
December 07, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – 2016 PBR Rookie of the Year Jess Lockwood attended the belt buckle ceremony at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this past Saturday after his aunt, Lisa Lockhart, won the barrel racing action in Round 3.
During the ceremony, Lockwood made sure to say hello to saddle bronc rider Ryder Wright, the older brother of Lockwood’s good friend, Spencer Wright.
Ryder, 18, took the Western sports world by storm at the beginning of the NFR by winning the first four rounds of competition.
Wright is just the third roughstock rider in the NFR’s 58-year history to ever win four consecutive rounds.
From one teenage superstar to another, Lockwood, 19, has been impressed.
“He has been killing it,” Lockwood said. “He has been drawing the right stuff and he has been getting it done. I know Ryder pretty well. I know his younger brother really well. I like Ryder and he rides really good. He is from a family that rides really good. He just kind of born into it too.”
Lockwood and Ryder both competed together at this past year’s National High School Finals Rodeo.
Coincidentally, both pro superstars came up short at winning national titles at the high school level.
“It just what not to be I guess,” Lockwood said with a laugh. “He actually rode all three though. I didn’t even ride all three. He got his job done. I just didn’t.”
Nevada Newman’s younger brother, Sage, actually won the saddle bronc national title this past summer over Wright. Sage was the fifth Montana cowboy to win a national saddle bronc title.
This is the 10th consecutive year Lockwood has attended the NFR as a fan with his family.
“When we saw Ryder at the buckle ceremony the same night Lisa won, I talked to him a little,” Lockwood said. “Me and his younger brother talk quite a bit. We text and Snapchat all the time. He rides bulls really good. He plans on coming down to Lambert’s when he turns 18 to hang out with me.”
Wright began the NFR 14th in the world standings and has soared to second in the saddle bronc standings. However, he has bucked off in two consecutive rounds since making history early in the week.
Similarly, PBR veteran bull rider and 2011 PRCA champion Shane Proctor has gone 6-for-6 at the NFR to surge from 15th in the bull riding standings to second.
“He is riding completely different than he was at the PBR Finals for dang sure,” Lockwood said.
Lockwood returned home to Montana on Monday from Las Vegas and will stay in Big Sky Country before returning to PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert’s ranch in Bowie, Texas, at the end of the month.
Attending the NFR only added to Lockwood’s itch to get back on a bull sooner rather than later.
The 2017 Built Ford Tough Series begins on Jan. 6 with the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden in New York.
“It gets me pretty pumped,” said Lockwood, who had thought about trying to qualify for the NFR before opting to focus solely on the PBR. “The bull power isn’t too much other than that third round when Bruiser and Long John were out, but even just watching bull riding on TV gets me pumped up.
“I am ready to get on.”
Lockwood wound up not getting a cast on his injured left riding hand (damaged CMC joint and torn ligaments) after the World Finals. Instead, Dr. Bo Frederick, an Orthopedic Hand Surgeon in Dallas, recommended Lockwood let the injury heal naturally.
“I started taking two Aleve for the past month, and he said take it for another two months,” Lockwood said. “I am all pilled up, but my hand feels really good. Even when I am working out, I don’t even use it. I just put one of those elastic bands around my wrist and use that to do curls and stuff. I am not really using my hand much.”
Lockwood concluded the 2016 season eighth in the world standings, but his 0-for-5 performance at the World Finals has him extremely motivated for 2017.
“Cody and I talked about it,” Lockwood said. “There wasn’t too much to talk about, but he said, ‘You want to forget about the Finals, but, at the same time, you never want to forget about the Finals. You want to remember how bad that felt to not ride nothing and you never want to let that happen again.’”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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