First attended a gay rodeo in 1983
Laura Laykasek, also known as Laura Lee to her rodeo family, was born in Kingsville, Texas in 1960. Laura has loved animals all her life, with horses a part of her life as far back as she can remember. Her sister began putting her on horses at the age of six. At age 10, Laura began to spend her summers training horses and leading horseback riding tours at the Frio River in Concan, Texas. Growing up Laura was involved with both the 4-H Club and Texas Youth Rodeo Association (TYRA).
In 1981, Laura moved to San Antonio, Texas where she made her living as a carpenter. Her adult rodeo career began two years later when Laura met Judy Gayle, the owner of "Our Place Bar" of San Antonio. A group discussion was being held in the bar about forming the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA), and Laura became involved. Laura has said that she would not have accomplished anything in TGRA or the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) without the encouragement and support from Judy Gayle, Margaret Forman, and the people from the San Antonio community. With their help Laura got involved in administration, the rodeo competition, and royalty competition to help raise money for HIV/AIDS.
In 1984, Laura was elected to serve as Vice President of the San Antonio Chapter of TGRA. She also competed in the first Texas Rodeo in Simonton, which is near Houston, where she won the title All-Around Cowgirl in Horse Speed Events, as well as All-Around Cowgirl. Laura was the first and second "Ms. TGRA", 1985 - 1986. Touring Texas with Pauletta Leigh, they raised several thousand dollars for TGRA charities.
In September, 1985, Laura was part of the TGRA delegation that traveled to Denver, Colorado for the ?rst IGRA Convention, where she was instrumental in writing rodeo rules for all horse speed events and roping events. In 1986 there was no IGRA fnals rodeo, however, based on points awarded, Laura won the first ever IGRA All-Around Cowgirl title. In her early rodeo years, Laura competed in rodeos in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, and California. Laura competed in every rodeo event, with the exception of Bull Riding. She even competed in the Wild Cow Milking competition, which was so rough that it was removed from the IGRA approved events after only one year; the 1985-86 rodeo season. But before it was removed, Laura's team did win the buckle at the 1985 Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo. Over the years, Laura won numerous individual and team event buckles, and several All-Around Cowgirl titles. Laura competed on a horse named Lucky in her speed events, and then on the horse she truly loved with all her heart, a palomino named Punkin. She was given Punkin as a young horse, and competed on him in speed and roping events, which he loved the most. Laura sufered through injuries and illnesses, though she was never injured from horse riding or competing in rodeos. The injuries did keep her from competing for periods of time, and she had to give up competing in the horse events.
Her passion for rodeo has kept her still competing to this day. These days, she loves to coach, guide, and encourage new and developing contestants. She loves the camaraderie within the rodeo family that she loves and supports. In 2015, Laura married her wife Debbie Phillips. They made their home in San Antonio on Dream Ranch in 1993, where Laura trained and developed horses. They built an arena where they held Barrel Races for Dream Ranch and the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA). They also provided training opportunities for their local community at their arena. At the time of her induction into this Hall of Fame, Laura had traveled the IGRA rodeo circuit for 33 years, and with her partner, Debbie, for 25 years.