It’s only been less than a year, but Lane Livingston has come a long way from last season as a member of the Weatherford College rodeo team.
Midway through his sophomore season, he is the No. 1 tie-down roper in America.
“My freshman year was by far the toughest year that I have ever experienced in roping and rodeo. I was 0-10 in making the short round in calf roping,” said Livingston. “Looking back it was very humbling and eye-opening for me but it made me work to get a whole lot better in every aspect of my roping.”
It worked. He has been dominant in the Southwest Region and holds a 50-point lead in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association standings.
College rodeo allows athletes to spend three seasons at the two-year college level if they choose before moving on to a university. Livingston said that experience is now paying off for him.
“Last year I started out placing at a couple of rodeos the first semester. I had the perspective that there’s always another rodeo ahead if I didn’t do well, which is important to have in rodeo, but I found myself having to do good at the last two rodeos - in which I did not,” he said. “This year I have a different outlook. My goal has been to place or win on every calf. That way I might not find myself in a must-win situation at the last rodeo of the year.”
In high school at Seymour, Livingston was a success in a variety of sports, along with being a member of the National Honor Society. He also earned All-State honors in football.
But rodeo, particularly roping, has always been his true athletic passion. He took up tie-down roping in the seventh grade.
“The first couple of times I tried it I knew right then I was going to pursue it more than any other sport or event,” he said. “The sense of horsemanship and athletic ability are probably the two things that attract me to do it. A guy has to understand what it takes to have a good horse, and also how to keep their horse working, but at the same time make sure he as an individual is doing what it takes to have the athletic ability to win.”
Livingston said setting up a winning run is the biggest challenge.
“It’s you against the calf, so you have to make the best game plan you can to beat the calf,” he said. “Just like anything, there is danger involved, but if a person does it right it is harmless to the cowboy and calf.
“I did break my leg when I was 15 getting off my horse at a calf roping.”
As for his lead at the season’s midpoint, he’s not taking anything for granted. He knows he’s participating in a sport where standings can change as quick as the calf comes out of a chute.
“It’s a great feeling, but rodeo is a very humbling sport. It can go bad at any time, but with a lead after the first semester it is definitely a confidence booster,” Livingston said. “I plan to just keep working and getting better because there still is a lot of rodeo left next semester.”
And he’s already competing on the professional circuit, having earned his permit and competing in several rodeos across the state. It’s made him some money and kept him quite busy.
“I’ve won about $7,000 on my permit. It has changed my approach in roping a lot,” he said. “I went to a few fall PRCA rodeos this year the same weekends as the college rodeos, which has helped me try to continue to compete at a winning level. I think that’s been the biggest benefit verses the past couple of years.”
Livingston comes from a ranching family, and his dad is a roper, though he never had time to compete. Still, he’s been a big influence in Lane’s success.
“My family knows a lot about rodeo and my dad has always team roped, but never had the opportunity to rodeo much just because he was busy working for our family,” said Livingston. “He taught me pretty much everything I know about roping.”
Livingston’s major is agricultural business. Along with rodeoing, he plans to go back and ranch with his family after school.
“I want to rodeo as long as I can after school. Roping and rodeo is what I love to do, so to make a career out of it would be a dream come true,” he said.