LA FIESTA DE LOS VAQUEROS

Well-dressed barrel racer has own style

2010-02-25T00:00:00Z Well-dressed barrel racer has own styleRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 25, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Lindsay Sears reads Vogue and Glamour magazines, wears low-rise jeans and waits eagerly for "Fashion Week" in New York and London every year.

They're typical tastes for a 29-year-old - except that haute couture in her profession, barrel racing, often consists of a pair of Wranglers and fringe jacket.

For better and worse, Sears is more fashion-forward.

"I'm just a little bit different. Do I aim to do that? No. It's just who I am," Sears said. "Every sport has somebody who's a little bit different, and maybe that's me."

Style is second to substance for Sears, the favorite to win the barrel racing event at this week's La Fiesta de los Vaqueros.

Through two rounds, the Canadian-born Sears is first overall with an aggregate score of 34.71. She'll return to Tucson on Sunday for the final go-round, one that will also include Marana's Sherry Cervi.

The Star talked to Sears on Wednesday about her horse, her sense of style and her chances. Here's what she said:

• "I definitely wasn't raised in the rodeo lifestyle."

Sears grew up on a ranch in High River, Alberta, but was never part of the youth-rodeo circuit.

Academics, not athletics, dominated the Sears household.

Lindsay attended Texas Tech, graduating with a degree in agricultural economics. Pro rodeo, she said, was never a viable career option.

"My path, it's a little different. I wasn't raised in the rodeo circuit," she said. "My family put a high importance on education. I planned on getting a job. I thought I would be trading commodities my whole life."

• "In barrel racing, you're only as good as your horse is."

Fate stepped in when Sears bought Martha, a 6-year-old sorrel mare, in January 2006. It proved to be a perfect pairing.

Martha has been compared to Scamper, a legendary horse who won 10 barrel racing world titles in the 1980s and '90s.

"In barrel racing, you're only as good as your horse is," Lindsay said. "You can be a great rider, have an average horse and be less than dominant. I got Martha, and it really snowballed from there.

"Rodeo went from a hobby I did for fun to a career."

• "I like to push the envelope."

Sears said she was never into the traditional Western "look" - a collared shirt, jeans, boots and a gaudy belt buckle.

Her look, created by Ariat Western wear, is inspired by high fashion.

"I love clothes. I love shoes. And I love the fashion world. I like to push the envelope," she said. "Occasionally, you'll see me in Western attire, but most of the time, you won't. Not that I refuse to wear the traditional Western wear - I was raised to respect the Western way of life and the West - but I like high fashion. I like to express myself a little bit. … This is me. Like it or leave it."

Sears has received some negative feedback on the rodeo circuit, but said it's mostly a generational thing.

Older competitors and fans "think rodeo is a way of life and a culture - and it is," she said. "But things change and style changes. You can't change who you are. You can never lose yourself."

• "Tucson has always been a good rodeo for me."

Sears will spend the next few days competing in San Angelo, Texas, before returning to Tucson for Sunday's finals.

She'll compete with a new horse, D.J.; Martha will be sent to Houston for next week's Livestock Show and Rodeo.

"There's a difference between horses, how you ride them and how you approach things," she said. "It's a completely different switch. I've had both horses a long time, and I know both of them."

Sears said she likes her chances to win.

"Tucson has always been a good rodeo for me," she said. "I'm excited to come back for the short round."

IF YOU GO

• What: 85th annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo

• When: Today through Sunday

• Where: Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Ave.

• Admission: $16-$26 per day unless otherwise specified

• Parking:$5 per car

• Online: tucsonrodeo.com

Schedule

• Today: 9 a.m., Tucson Rodeo Parade starting at South Park Avenue and East Fair Street. Rodeo begins at 12:30 p.m. (Gates open at 11 a.m.) ProRodeo at 2p.m.

• Friday: 12:30 p.m. (Gates open at 11 a.m.) ProRodeo at 2 p.m.

• Saturday: 12:30 p.m. (Gates open at 11 a.m.) ProRodeo at 2 p.m.

• Sunday: 12:30 p.m. (Gates open at 11 a.m.) ProRodeo at 2 p.m.

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