Straight-Up Partners

photo by Matt Cohen   

photo by Matt Cohen


Mom is still helping me succeed.

by Hailey Kinsel

My mom, Leslie, and I are straight-up partners on everything. She doesn’t tell me what to do, but she’s a heck of a guidance counselor. I’ll ask, “What do you think?” And she’ll give me a general framework of what to consider.

After I qualified for the finals at The American in 2017, Mom and I were walking through the tunnel at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In a few hours, I would compete against three other barrel racers for all or some of the $1 million bonus. I was planning to water Sister, ice her legs and give her a little hay before the shootout round.

“Do you have your phone on you, Hailey?” Mom asked.

“It’s back at the trailer. Why?”

“Do what you want, but my suggestion would be to turn it off,” she said. “You’re gonna have a lot of messages from people congratulating you and giving you advice for the shootout round. You’re gonna get caught up in what you just did, but you only have three hours to turn your brain around and prepare for the next run.”

I took Mom’s advice, and I’m so glad I did, because that phone would have fried from all the calls and texts.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

Throughout my childhood, Mom never pushed me. Her attitude was always, You’ll take yourself as far as you want to go.

We didn’t buy the nicest horses when I was rodeoing in high school. Mom did a heck of a job teaching me to make the most of what we had, which was good ranch horses. That made me a better rider and competitor.

Mom always taught me to do what’s best for the horse, even if that means you don’t win all the time. You have to be patient. Sister was one of those horses. Nobody saw much promise in that yellow filly when we bought her at auction. She was a two-year-old ugly duckling. Together, over several years, Mom and I made her into a barrel horse.

That day in Arlington, Sister helped me win The American, and together we earned more than $700,000 in 2017. That yellow horse is still helping me succeed.

So is Mom.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

Hailey Kinsel