*Editor’s Note: The information in the story is attributed to the interview obtained by Mvskoke Media from Levi Jackson.
Jackson places third at INFR
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — What began as watching his older cousin in a rodeo, turned into something that Muscogee (Creek) citizen Levi Jackson loves to cherish.
“My cousin had done it all his life and I watched him a lot,” he said. “That is what made me want to do it.”
He said he watched his cousins until he was 11-years-old and then started to compete.
Jackson competes in tie down calf rope or calf roping. This is a rodeo event that features a calf and a rider mounted on a horse. The goal of this timed event is for the rider to catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope from a lariat around its neck, dismount from the horse, run to the calf and restrain it by tying three legs together in as little of time as possible.
“After it is tied, you have to let the calf lay there for six seconds and that is when the time is official,” he said.
The origin of this event can be traced back to ranchers having to bring in cattle that might be sick for the veterinarian to look at.
Back in October 2017, Jackson competed in the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he said it was a journey leading up to the INFR.
“My first event was in Canada and I won that,” he said. “Then I had a couple of events in Montana.”
Some of those events he said he did not do too well in and it was time to make the trek back home. While home, he immediately re-evaluated what he was doing and practiced before he went back on the road.
“We had a week or two of a break,” he said. “I came home and began practicing to fix what I needed to fix.”
After a week, he was packed and ready to go back north to Canada.
“I didn’t do any good there but the next one in Pine Ridge (South Dakota) I did very good and it helped in the rankings,” Jackson said.
He had a few more rodeos to go to and then returned home. He explained that you have to be in a certain number of rankings before anyone gets invited to Las Vegas.
“You have to be in the top 10,” Jackson said. “I was in eleventh at the time.”
Towards the end of September, he received word that one of the cowboys he competed against injured himself and could not compete. Then he waited on a phone call to see if he received the invite.
“It seemed like the end of September and some of October I was waiting on this call,” Jackson said.
He said he received the phone call while at a rodeo that he was going to compete in the National Finals.
“We had an idea that I was going,” Jackson said. “We had to wait and get the official word.”
However, there was a setback that could have cost him the trip.
“About three weeks before Vegas, I blew out my knee,” Jackson said. “I could not practice at all. One day before I left, I rode my horse a few times but that was it.”
When he made it to the INFR, Jackson went to the calf-roping shoots and was amazed.
“I couldn’t believe it that I made it,” he said. “I was going to keep doing events around home in Oklahoma.”
Jackson said he finished in third place in the average of all the competitors and third place overall in the INFR.
“I was going to be happy in whatever place I finish,” he said.
Jackson said it was not easy traveling to different rodeos throughout the country and in Canada.
“It was hard,” he said. “I missed my friends. They were at home having fun and I am in Canada by myself.”
He said he stayed in contact with friends and family as much as he could, almost daily.
“I’m glad I got to experience the traveling to the different rodeos,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he had numerous sponsors that helped him to be able to make the trip to the INFR.
“Without those sponsors, there was no way I could go up there and compete,” he said. “I have to thank them.”
He said his next goal is to make the Wrangler National Finals, which is also in Las Vegas.
“That is my goal is to compete in that,” Jackson said.
For now, he is resting, and making sure his knee heals before he heads out on the road.
“The season begins in February,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s parents are Joe and Kristie Jackson. His grandparents are Ronnie and Bridgie Jackson.