story by Lindsay Humphrey Last summer, Emily changed her last name from Vinton to Finney when she married Doug. It was a match made at […]
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Meet the Member Kelley Haythorn
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Growing up near Breckenridge, Colorado, Kelley Haythorn all but lived a double life. One of those “lives” was as a rodeo competitor based out of Mullen, Nebraska. “I spent all my summers with my grandparents (Gary and the late Betty Karen Pearman) in Nebraska and rodeoed from the time I was four. There’s a picture of my grandma warming up her barrel horse and I’m on the hood of the truck in a baby carrier,” said the Arthur, Nebraska, breakaway roper and barrel racer. “As a kid I played sports and danced in Colorado and then rodeoed in Nebraska. I had two sets of friends, two different wardrobes, two different lives really.”
Even though Kelley appreciated the diverse life she led up through high school, cutting her teeth on rodeo effectively defined her trajectory into college and beyond. “My parents weren’t involved in rodeo, but they were helpful in whatever way they could be. A lot of that was driving while I was in high school.” By senior year, Kelley was competing in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping, team roping and cutting. “I really enjoyed cutting, but I didn’t get into it until I started dating Sage (who is now Kelley’s husband). That helped me win the all-around at state finals in 2004.” After a trip to nationals, Kelley rodeoed four years in Canyon, Texas, for West Texas A&M after buying her WPRA permit at 18.
First joining the M-SRA in 2007, Kelley made the finals two years in a row in breakaway and barrels. Kelley fell off the radar for a little bit when she had her son, Steel. Before 2020, Kelley hadn’t seen the inside of a finals arena since 2014. “It was really fun and exciting to feel like I was back at a level that I had been before I had kids.” Since moving the M-SRA finals to Broken Bow, the committee has infused energy and excitement back into the production to make the finals look and feel like the big deal that they are.
Also, in the last few years, Kelley has been a main contributor to the success of the family ranch rodeo team at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. “A few years ago, they added barrel racing. I’m the only barrel racer in the family, so I got to run those.” Kelley has won that event for the last three years. “I’m probably one of the few running a tried-and-true barrel horse, but I felt special being able to contribute to the team.” The first year the Haythorn team were invited to the event but have had to earn their spot in the years that followed. With their second-place finish in 2020, the team was destined for their third appearance. The event was cancelled but their qualification defaults to 2022.
Kelley started and ended the year on a high note. At the Rapid City rodeo, Kelley placed in the top six in the breakaway roping. “That was a pretty good check and just exciting in general. I went last year and was just out of placing. It was a good way to end the summer.” As Kelley puts pen to paper for the 2021 season, she’s setting the bar high. “It’s been my goal, more like a dream, to win the year end all around for one of the associations (NSRA, M-SRA, or WPRA). There’s no reason why I can’t make it happen.” Making it back to the finals was the push Kelley needed to set her mind hard and fast to this goal. She’ll be dabbling in the mixed team roping as an added all-around event in the coming year.