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Meet the Member Kaylee Kinney
story by Michele Toberer
The Louisiana High School Rodeo Association has been a big part of the Kinney family for generations. Kaylee Kinney, a sophomore member of LHSRA has already spent three junior high years with the association before moving up to the high school division last year. She is honored to compete in the same association that her parents, Lee and Tressie Kinney once did. Tressie, a respiratory therapist, ran barrels, poles, and tied goats; and Lee, an insurance salesman, was an LHSRA all-around cowboy competing in calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, bull riding and cutting. Kaylee’s grandfather, Edward Kinney, was the very first LHSRA All-Around Cowboy in 1950, and later spent years as a stock contractor and rodeo producer, putting on PRCA rodeos in the mid-1950’s thru 1970’s. Her grandfather continued to produce LHSRA rodeos up until he passed away in 2012. Lee helped his father in his rodeo business and began picking up bareback horses when he was just 13 years old. Kaylee’s older brother Clint spent time as a rodeo competitor also, and the family is proud to have the fourth-generation of Kinneys running strong in a sport and association that they love, with deep family roots.
Although she got a start in rodeo at a very young age, a traumatic horse accident while competing at a rodeo in Sulphur, Louisiana when she was 8 years old almost ended Kaylee’s rodeo career. “My horse died after running into a panel and breaking his neck, it was a terrible accident and I really had a hard time coming back after that.” After a few years, with the support of her family and Kaylee’s mom working to help her gain her confidence riding again, Kaylee was able to put the devastating experience behind her. “My family began looking for a horse to help me get my confidence back, and by the grace of God we found Millie, a little 13.2 hand bay horse that Lizzie Lovejoy leases to us. I thank God for Lizzie because otherwise who knows where I’d be.” Millie and Kaylee have become quite a team in barrel racing, and Kaylee was the 2018 Reserve World Champion Barrel Racer at the National Little Britches Finals Rodeo, which gained them a spot at the Junior American Rodeo qualifier. Kaylee also won the 2018 NLBFR Reserve Champion All-Around Cowgirl title. “It was a phenomenal experience competing at the Jr. American qualifier. Millie has a lot of heart and even though she’s so small running against all those big horses, we still stayed in the top 20% of them all.”
Kaylee was the 2018 LHSRA Champion Rookie Pole Bender last year, and besides competing in barrels on Millie, she also competes in breakaway roping on her red roan gelding, Roany. She has found a love of cutting, and competes on her sorrel mare, Cash. She is very grateful to Steve Buster and Kevin Labove, who spend countless hours helping Kaylee and Cash achieve all that they can in the cutting arena. Kaylee credits Joe Beaver’s roping clinics for helping with her roping skills and helping to build her confidence in general. “Joe has a really good mindset and is so positive, plus we rope similar so it’s easy to connect with him. But, I’m most grateful to my dad, who has spent countless hours in the arena with me and is truly my roping coach and inspiration.” To prepare for rodeos, Kaylee turns up the country music tunes to clear her mind, and before every run, she says a prayer.
Born and raised in Sulphur, Louisiana, Kaylee attends Sulphur High School where she maintains a 3.8 GPA, and her favorite class is geometry. She enjoys helping the school and community through her involvement in Beta Club and student council. She has been a part of a competitive cheer team for the past 6 years, and travels all over Louisiana and Texas for cheer competitions. “It’s a lot of work, but I like that just like rodeo, everyone is a family and you work hard to compete but you get to do it with friends.” Although she aspires to work in the medical field in the future, for now Kaylee’s main focus is rodeo.