story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
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Meet the Member Thomas Lagace
story by Lindsay Whelchel
Canadian cowboy Thomas Lagace grew up around horses, but his parents weren’t into rodeo as much as working with driving horses for winter sleigh rides in Quebec. Unfortunately, a barn fire ended the family’s heavy involvement in the industry. Luckily all of the horses were saved but Thomas turned his focus on to hockey. His sister had started to ride horses again however and that led Thomas to meeting Eric Arial, a roper who became his mentor and helped Thomas take up the sport of rodeo. At 14 he was set to play at a big hockey camp for the school and never made it there because he was gone to a rodeo, and the rest as they say, is history.
As a timed-event competitor, Thomas focuses on tie-down roping the most, though has thought of taking up bronc riding too.
“I chose the tie down roping for many reasons,” he says and adds, “The first one, it’s probably because it’s the most technical event in the rodeo industry, and I love it like that. It’s not easy at all to do, but the more you practice the more you keep getting better. I love the horsemanship part. I grew up roping on young horses and learning how to make them.” He loves the team dynamic between a rider and his horse as well and the preparation needed from both to be ready to compete.
And that preparation is paying off. Thomas qualified for his first IFR last season and is holding a steady place in the top of the IPRA world standings this year on his way to IFR48 in January.
“Last year was one of the best feelings to qualify myself for the IFR,” he says, explaining that during the winter months he’s busy with school in Montreal where he’s studying to become an engineer and came close in years past to qualifying but didn’t quite make it once the summer was over.
Big wins in his region changed all of that, and he’s on track to repeat history this year. He’s staying consistent, placing at most of the rodeos this summer, just having fun and rising in the standings. But after selling one of his good horses and the other horse having surgery, he’s benefitted from having good friends with good horses to ride this season in addition to his promising young horse.
“I have been fortunate enough to have really good friends who had great horses. I rode a little mare of my friend who is doing so well, she has so much heart it’s crazy. And my 4-year-old [horse] is amazing. He’s just the same at home that he is at the rodeo, just there like a soldier.”
Outside of rodeo and engineering, Thomas likes to wake board and practice his roping skills. He plans to own his own construction company or ranch one day in the future.
He’ll definitely plan to stay involved in rodeo. He says he loves everything about the sport, especially getting to travel with friends and meet new people every weekend. He explains that calf roping is a growing, relatively new, trend in Quebec and the young cowboys all stick together and help each other out.
Of rodeo, Thomas advises, “go there and have fun. Do it because you like it, and you enjoy it. Keep smiling and be positive.”
He’d like to thank his father for giving his all for his son to do what he loves, his entire family for their support, his mentor Eric and his uncle who let him ride his horse, as well as his friends and roping partners who make a difference in his roping.
“My coach in hockey always told me that you play like you practice, and this year it’s been awesome to practice with my friend Jason who drove one and a half hours every night to practice.” Thomas also credits his sponsors Boulet Boots, Nettoile, Maple Leaf Charcoal and MIMI Western Shop.
“You might be alone in the arena to rope your calf, but you need a whole team to get there and be able to rope that calf. And I am so lucky to have the greatest team around.”
Watch for Thomas this January in Oklahoma City at the International Finals Rodeo.