Lita Scott got introduced to rodeos and barrel racing when she was 9 years old, and she was hooked. It's been a love affair that has never stopped.
Thirty-five years later, Scott has three National Finals Rodeo appearances on her resume (1991-92-93) plus a California circuit championship in 1992. In 1992, she clocked an impressive 14.02 at the NFR.
The 44-year-old Scott, now a successful real estate appraiser and mother of two, gets a rare opportunity to compete close to home when she competes in the 87th annual Reno Rodeo which officially gets under way Friday at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
Scott, who lives in Washoe Valley, admits there is pressure performing in front of family and friends that you don't have when you are on the road. She will be performing in the slack session Friday morning and then will have her turn in the outdoor arena next Thursday.
Scott is quick to point out that this is a star-studded field.
"Reno is such a killer pen (of competitors)," Scott said. "You have the best of the best here. You have (Sherry) Cervi and Linda Vick (Scott's aunt). They will run good and run hard.''
Scott cracked out her best mare, Peppys Congor Gal, also known as Richard, a couple of weeks ago, and she's realistic about her chances
"It's usually very good or very bad," she said matter-of-factly. "I know we can do it. I'm out to have fun and enjoy myself. Hopefully it (Richard) won't make me look like a total idiot."
Scott said the key to a fast time is being in the right frame of mind before you head down the alley and into the arena.
"One bad step can make the difference; one bobble," Scott said. "You have to hit it perfect unless you have a horse that can outrun its mistake. We all miss a barrel. I know in Reno it's a nice, long run to the first barrel, and if your timing isn't right, you can go right by it. You have to get everything perfect."
Scott finished the winter season ranked 29th in the WPRA standings, and it could have been higher had it not been for an injury.
"I was doing real well; on track to make the tour finals until I took a header at Red Bluff and fractured my clavicle," Scott said. "It still hurts."
Nearly half of her $7,687 that she earned on this season's winter circuit came at Tucson when she won more than $3,000. She was eighth in the second go-round, took third in the finals and won an extra $2,200 for her performance over all three rounds. She was also fourth at Turlock recently.
Part of her success can be attributed to returning to the circuit full-time. She turned her appraising business over to some associates for the time being, and with 4-year-old Stevie Mae and 2-year-old Colby in tow, turned her attention to the road. She'll stay on the road full-time for the time being.
"I couldn't do it by myself," Scott said. "I travel with a nanny. You get to know the people that have kids. There are a lot of families out there. It's a whole lot easier when somebody is with the kids. Kelly Kaminski (fellow barrel race competitor) has a little girl."
Traveling remains a grind, with or without kids, according to Scott. That's why she stopped being a regular earlier in her career, because she felt like she was more of a truck driver than a barrel racer.
According to the WPRA, Scott has earned $236,329 in her 15-year career, and nearly half of that ($158,643) came in her first three seasons when she was riding full time. She made the NFR Finals each of those years, finishing ninth ($38,652), fifth ($65,384) and ninth ($54,607) on the money list.
"I was blessed," she said.
She gives a lot of the credit to her horse, Jo, for her early success.
"The old horse made me what I am," Scott said.
Scott got into a serious car accident back in August of 1994.
"I couldn't even walk," Scott said. "It took me a long time to get over that."
When she returned in 1995, she won a respectable $14,087, but has been mostly doing rodeos close to home since 1996 when she competed in just three rodeos.
Scott reached the finals of the California circuit in 2005, taking fourth on the first go-round and first in the third go-round. She finished the 2005 season with $6,099 in prize money, her best year since 1995.
For now, the happy-go-lucky Scott is taking her rodeo career one day at a time and having the time of her life.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281