On The Trail with Lacee Curnutt
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Lacee Curnutt from Talihina, Oklahoma, grew up riding on a ranch. Her grandfather, Don Huddleston (Back When They Bucked, page 18)raised her riding with him on the southeast Oklahoma ranch. “My grandpa went to the NFR 8 times and even though he had retired by the time I started hazing, I used to haze for everyone he helped,” said the oldest of five sisters. “On Sundays, Grandmomma took me to church and we always practiced after the meal.” Lacee competed in barrel racing and hazed with her two bulldogging teams through college. “Those two teams helped me stay on the rodeo team,” she said. Lacee went to college for elementary education, but left to go pro rodeo before completing the student teaching.
She hazed for her ex-husband and several bulldoggers and came home when she became pregnant. “Then along came Walker Don Woodall,” she said. “I couldn’t be luckier –he’s friendly, loving and kind. And a good boy.” She came home and waitressed and eventually worked in the oil fields. “I was still hazing at the amateur rodeos and raising Walker; trying to be a good mom.” Although Walker rides horses, his first priority is playing football. He also likes fishing and playing baseball.
Lacee met steer wrestler Tom Lewis through a mutual friend and they literally met on the road – at a Wendy’s at Hayes, Kansas. He went his way and she went hers. “I told him if he made the short round at Dodge City, Kansas, I’d come watch him.” He did and she went and he won the rodeo. “It was a good first date.” That was more than a year ago and the couple will be married November 10.
She has been able to stay home, quitting her job of hauling horse trailers, to take care of the horses at home and keep up with 10-year-old Walker and Tom. Whenever she can, she hazes for Tom as well as several others. “I can remember the first time in 2003 when I bought my card. I hazed in Ft. Worth and they were fresh cattle; that will always weed out who deserves to be there. It was a man’s sport, and I had to prove myself before they were ever really nice. Once I did, they were good.”
She says that one of the secrets to being a good hazer is having a good horse. “That hazing horse has to help everyone,” explained the 35 year old. “When I was young, I had a horse that we got off the track. He bucked everyone off and finally I got him and he took care of me until the day he died. He was 22 – it’s been hard to find another one. I’ve trained a bunch, and Chad Richard out of Utah had one that has been super awesome – Superman.”
“Throwing your leg across enough of them you know the difference. When to say enough is enough and when to keep messing with them. With age, you recognize what a good horse has to have. You’ve got to have some heart in them – I like finding that peace in a horse.” They have the perfect team now between Superman and Maverick. It’s the same way they feel about working as a team with each other.
“I never thought I would ever have a lady haze for me,” said Tom, who made the NFR in 2012. “She’s not just a cowgirl; she’s special. She’s the love of my life, we’re good friends and we can talk. It’s been good. At the end of the day, it’s just a rodeo.” He has been dogging steers since he was a junior in high school, joining the PRCA in 2001. In 2012, after winning the circuit 4 times, he made a run at the NFR. His good horse got hurt after he made the NFR in 2012 and it’s taken him four years to find Maverick. Four guys rode him at the Finals last year and the duo, along with the hazing horse, Superman, have had a great year.
Lacee’s goal in life is to be happy and have a peaceful life. “I want to give back, I love helping young ones! Always give God the Glory; we would be nothing without Him! Her other goal is to be the first female hazer at the NFR, a goal she has held dear for many years. “I’d love to make history. To me it would be a payoff of years and years of hard work.”