story by Lindsay Humphrey Both riding Radar Cats Merada – “Radar” – sisters Terryn Harvey and Carly Grady punched their tickets for the 2022 Junior […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Elaina McKinney
story by Lily Weinacht
“I know that whenever you do put in a lot of hard work, it shows up later down the road, and I’m blessed with what I’ve been able to do,” says Elaina McKinney. The 16-year-old barrel racer from Carbondale, Illinois, qualified for her first Junior NFR after winning the senior division at the KK Run for Vegas held in Memphis, Tennessee. Astride her horse WRS Kool Memories “Kool”, who was trained by her grandpa, Elaina stopped the clock at 14.518. “I was really happy with my run. My horse stayed consistent—we ran him three times that weekend and he placed every time. I heard about it (the qualifier) from a friend and thought it would be a good experience. We have quite a few shows to hit before the Junior NFR, so I’m trying to keep my horse fresh and wanting to do his job.”
The KK Run for Vegas qualifier was hosted by the World Barrel Racing League, who held their Youth World Championships that same weekend, and Elaina and Kool took second place in the first round, and won the second round and the finals. She also ran a horse named Fame at the Championships and placed fifth. “I want to thank the Hensons for trusting me to ride their horse,” she says. “I try to be focused whenever I get on a different horse because they both run very different, but I like it. It’s fun running more than one horse.”
Chasing cans runs deep in Elaina’s family, starting with her grandpa Bob McKinney, and her parents, Rick and Kim McKinney, who all barrel race. “My dad and grandpa have always trained barrel horses. I ride with my grandpa most every day and try to learn from him and how he does things and his past experiences. My dad also helps me a bunch, and the whole family does. It takes a village to get everything done. I just love riding horses, and I love to meet the awesome people we get to meet at different barrel races.”
Elaina competes in the NBHA, IBRA, Lucky Dog Production Shows, and open shows, while she’s currently winning the barrel racing in the junior division of the WPRA. Her success is made possible by her 10-year-old gelding, Kool. “He gives 110 percent every time he goes out there, and he’s always wanting to run and turn and work for you. He’s a dream horse—you don’t get many like him—and I just thank the Lord that He blessed me with him.” Elaina rarely runs barrels at home, but keeps her horses legged up between shows and switched to homeschooling last year to open up her schedule. Her 13-year-old brother, Trey, is also homeschooled. He’s professional bass fisherman, and won the Junior Bassmaster National Championship in early August.
When she’s not with her horses, Elaina often helps at her family’s store, McKinney’s Western Store. “We have tack, feed, a clothing department—anything you would need for a horse or for yourself. I help if people have questions, or I’ll help write tickets and things like that.” Between bass fishing and barrel racing, she and her family are traveling most weekends, and Elaina’s latest goal is winning the NBHA Open World Championships. “They have a No Bull Finale in Fletcher, North Carolina, that I would like to win someday, and I’d like to win the WPRA Finals in Waco,” says Elaina. “I’d like to thank my friends and family for everything, and I also give God all the glory because I wouldn’t be where I am without Him.”
Elaina also extends her thanks to her sponsors: Circle Y Saddlery, Oxy-Gen, Professional’s Choice, CR Ranchwear, Kimes Ranch Jeans, Durango Boots, Tribute Equine Nutrition, Equi-Resp, Troxel Helmets, McKinney’s Western Store, Joanna Parker Tack, Finish Line Horse Products.