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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Q&A: Champion barrel racer Hailey Kinsel


Barrel Racer Hailey Kinsel, Class of 2017, began competing on horseback when she was 3 years old.

Battalion Life & Arts writer Meagan Sheffield sat down with 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo World Champion Barrel Racer Hailey Kinsel, Class of 2017. Kinsel talked about what inspired her to participate in barrel racing, her experience in rodeo and her future goals.
In barrel racing, the horse and rider compete for the fastest time to go around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. Kinsel and her horse Sister won four out of nine rounds on Dec. 14, 2018. Kinsel won the San Antonio rodeo for the second year in a row this year. In March, she will be competing in the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
THE BATTALION: How did you get involved in rodeo and barrel racing?
KINSEL: I grew up on a working cattle ranch with parents who rodeoed and trained horses. With access to both horses and knowledge, I always had the tools to rodeo, as well as the desire. I was riding before I could walk, and competing since age 3. Gymnastics was another love of mine, and something I was good at, so I competed for several years, but when it came time to decide if I wanted to spend all my time in one direction or another, everything — including gymnastics — fell short to rodeo, and particularly, barrel racing.
THE BATTALION: What does it feel like to be a world champion barrel racer?
KINSEL: It is amazing to have accomplished my lifelong dream. I never imagined I would be able to reach that level this soon, but I am thankful as it is giving me the platform to continue in my career.
THE BATTALION: What are some experiences from your time at Texas A&M that have shaped who you are and what you do now?
KINSEL: Texas A&M gave me the confidence that I could accomplish what I set out to do. My time there provided me with some important connections, including my very best friends. I love feeling like a part of something bigger than myself by being an Aggie.
THE BATTALION: What is the most rewarding part of barrel racing?
KINSEL: The most rewarding part is the connection between myself and my horses. The day-to-day simple yet hard work gives me unique relationships with each individual animal.
THE BATTALION: What is the hardest part about barrel racing?
KINSEL: The hardest part of rodeoing professionally is being away from home and my loved ones. I am on the road traveling about three-quarters of the year, so it is difficult to stay connected with what is going on at home. Another trial that requires good management skills is that I cannot haul all of my young up-and-coming horses in training with me, yet they need to be ridden and trained. My mom and I train all of our horses together, so often she is riding the ones left at home while I am hauling the ones that need experience. It takes a team to allow me to get home often and switch out horses as needed to keep the young ones going. Thankfully, I have the best team on earth in my family and friends that help me do this.
THE BATTALION: What are your short-term and long-term goals?
KINSEL: My main goal as a competitor is to be increasingly more efficient in my travel and rodeo selection, so that I can maximize my ability to win where I go, and not have to go to as many rodeos to do so. My business-plan goal is to establish our broodmares as proven producers in the next five years. I will soon be competing on the first babies raised in our program, and hope to have success on them to prove my mares.
THE BATTALION: Who are your role models?
KINSEL: My mom, Sherry Cervi, Lisa Lockhart, Charmayne James and many others who have come before me to make the sport better. I aspire to do my part in that as well.
THE BATTALION: What do you want other people to know about rodeo and barrel racing?
KINSEL: This industry is only growing, and it leads to many career opportunities. It does not have to be a money-draining hobby like some assume, if you are smart about it and a good manager. I use my [agriculture economics] degree daily in this career of mine to make wise decisions. I want to see more business-minded professionals, from investors to professors, understand this sport for its potential and opportunities. It is a beautiful display of the animal athletes we get to train and compete on.

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