Calf roper Monty Lewis is making headlines in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association lately, thanks to a handsome grey gelding named CM Getaway Driver. Before “Driver” carried the Hereford, Texas, cowboy to more than $50,000 in earnings so far in the 2023 pro rodeo season, the multi-event talent won the 2020 Barrel Futurities of America Amateur Futurity Championship with Monty’s wife, Jessica Lewis, in the saddle.
BHN takes a look back at Jessica’s first futurity championship with the couple’s irreplaceable all-around gelding.
Jess Lewis’ first barrel racing finals was one to remember. The cutter-turned-barrel-racer and her 2016 gelding CM Getaway Driver (CM Nonstop Nitro x Dance N Go x Royal Shake Em) qualified for the 2020 BFA World Championship Futurity Amateur Finals with a 15.992 and sealed the title with a 15.821 in the final go-round.
“This was my first finals. I was like ‘Please don’t screw this up. Please don’t make your horse look bad,’” Jess said. “Keep him between the mayonnaise and the mustard and think of what you’re doing—usually I totally black out. It was really fun though; he took care of me.”
Patterning and seasoning “Driver” has been a team effort between some of the best across the horse industry. Jess purchased him as a long yearling from his breeders Chuck and Mary Crago, sent him to Travis Sheets to get broke and then Ashley Schafer to start the barrels. The young gelding is also a pro rodeo money earner in the calf roping with Jess’ husband, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association calf roper Monty Lewis.
“He’s very willing, he’s very accepting, and for an amateur he makes up for my mistakes,” Jess said. “Riding with Monty so much has helped me a lot. The calf roper side really taught him how to plant his hind leg and not run smooth off.”
Jess says having so many resources to consult has been a major help as she pursues barrel racing more seriously. She also rides with renowned horseman Ron Ralls and calls upon the Cragos for advice on Driver.
“Ron Ralls and Monty Lewis are my spiritual advisers as far as barrel racing,” Jess said. “The Cragos are so supportive of me with this little horse and always so encouraging, and I send them my runs and they help me a lot.”
In addition to riding with multidisciplinary horsemen, Jess has Kassie Mowry in her corner as a friend and trainer. Jess has several horses in training with Mowry as well.
“Kassie is so good at explaining things, and she really broke things down for me and kept things simple. I enjoy watching how quietly she rides, and her hands are incredible. In my opinion, Kassie is the greatest ever — I kind of have a girl crush on her!” Jess said with a laugh.
She says access to professional help is crucial for amateur riders, especially for those interested in trying the futurities. A good horse that fits your riding style is also important to enjoy competing and have the most success.
“I would get with somebody whom you would like to ride like and that you have a lot of respect for. I studied the business and the horses,” said Jess, who also owns and operates Hoofbeat Equine Sports Therapy. “For me, I need to have a really strong horse because I’m an amateur rider, so get with somebody you respect as a rider and find a horse that you feel fits you. Driver really fits me well. He’s amazing for me; I can’t say enough good things about him.”
And, Jess has one last piece of advice for amateur riders.
“I’m just going to go home, keep practicing and try to ride like Kassie!” she laughed.