Beyond the Barrels: An Interview with Barrel Racing Star Hailey Kinsel

Beyond the Barrels: An Interview with Barrel Racing Star Hailey Kinsel

Beyond the Barrels: An Interview with Barrel Racing Star Hailey Kinsel

Hailey Kinsel has risen through the barrel racing ranks to become a star in the sport, captivating many with her impressive runs and unwavering courage. We sat down with her to learn more about her path to rodeo stardom and her hopes to inspire other young women striving for success.


Ariat Athlete Hailey Kinsel had always been a force to be reckoned with. From the time she was a little girl, she had a fierce determination to succeed and a natural talent for horsemanship. But it wasn't until she focused solely on her barrel racing career that everything fell into place.

With her trusted horse, Sister, by her side, Hailey quickly became a rising star in the rodeo world. Her record-breaking runs, fearlessness, and sheer grit made her a fan favorite and a formidable opponent. We sat down with Hailey to learn more about her journey to the top and the importance of chasing your dreams.

Tell us about your horse, DM Sissy Hayday, more affectionately known as Sister. How did she come into your life?

We purchased Sister as a 2-year-old with plans for my mom and I to train her together. We had a maternal half-sibling to her that we loved, and had always admired her sire as well, so we thought she would be a fun prospect with potential as a barrel, rope, or ranch horse.

What qualities make Sister a legendary barrel horse and a good partner? What attributes make you two a successful team?

There are too many great things to list. She is kind, willing, insanely athletic, and fast, but most of all, she tries harder than anyone and has no quit in her.

What kind of training and exercise program does a professional barrel horse require?

Every horse running barrels should be conditioned properly regardless of their level of competition to prevent injury and maximize performance, and at the highest level of barrel racing competition, you certainly cannot get by without having your horse as fit as possible and expect to be competitive.

What is the fastest you have ever run on a WPRA standard barrel pattern?


What is your most memorable run of all time and why?

It would be a toss-up between the standard pattern WPRA record run of 16.56 at the NFR in Arlington in 2020 and running a 13.11 in 2017 to set the arena record at the NFR in the Thomas & Mack arena in Las Vegas.

Photo courtesy of Teton Ridge

What did you want to be when you were a young girl?

I have always dreamed of having a career that involved horses, whether it was as a professional rider in any discipline or working in the equine industry and riding horses as a hobby. Nearly every memory I have as a little girl involved a horse! If we weren’t riding or taking care of them, we were playing with horse toys and pretending to be barrel racers. There has never been a period of my life that didn’t include horses!

Your mom is a horsewoman too, so you have a great family legacy in Texas. You could say horses are in your blood. How has your family shaped your involvement in the sport?

My family is the reason for my involvement in this sport. I come by the desire naturally, but their support is why I have been able to stay in this sport and excel. I would not be involved in rodeo without my family’s support, even if I could.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a professional barrel racer? What has been your biggest success?

I can’t think of any one challenge or one particular success! It’s all been a journey with many ups and downs that are simply part of it.

What advice can you offer young or amateur riders looking to get into barrel racing?

How would you encourage riders striving to emulate your success? I would encourage them to follow their own dreams. Instead of trying to be like me, try to be your own best, and let that take you wherever it may as you trust the process.

What impression has barrel racing and professional rodeo had on your life? Is there a specific barrel racer you looked up to most growing up? How about now?

This sport has shaped my dreams and desires from a young age. Growing up, I looked up to my parents, and my mom’s friends Lisa Anderson, Liz Pinkston, and Corley Cox, along with professional barrel racers like Sherry Cervi. Now, I look up to people like them who are now my friends and peers.

What are you looking forward to most in your future? What’s next for you?

I’d love to continue this work to get better as a horseman every day.

Running down the alleyway at the Finals in Vegas is a dream that crosses every barrel racer’s mind. Do you remember the first time down that alley? What was it like?

I remember nearly every moment of it. I was so excited, nervous, and feeling so ready all day.

What is the best advice you have been given along the way?

Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.

Can you share some advice for young women who want to follow their dreams?

Always believe in yourself and your horse and work hard to follow your passions. When you are tempted to think “Why me?”, instead ask yourself, “Why not me?”