Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Kennedy Bruce
story by Lily Weinacht
Kennedy Bruce and her horse T Bird made their first-ever competitive run together at the KK Run for Vegas qualifier in Lincoln, California, this March, stopping the clock at 17.650 to win the senior division. The 15-year-old from Lockeford, California, also ran her mare Speed of Light and placed second in the senior division, just two-tenths of a second off her winning time with a 17.812. “We had just got T Bird from Donna Irvin and we’d been working him at home, but we hadn’t run him hard yet,” explains Kennedy, who ran in two KK Run for Vegas qualifiers last year as well. “We got along really nice.” Kennedy and T Bird’s time carried into the Open where they placed sixth that weekend as well. “We stayed and watched the other barrel races, and I watched my friends run.”
Her goal leading up to the Junior World Finals is to continue building her bond with T Bird. “I’ll keep practicing with Donna and have her show me his little quirks—we do lessons with her,” says Kennedy. She’s also leading the barrel racing in the California High School Rodeo Association District 3, which qualified her for state finals. Qualifying for the CHSRA Challenge of the Champions Invitational this spring was also a highlight of her freshman year. “I ended up third in the short go in barrels, and sixth in the average. I want to try and make it every year to that,” says Kennedy, who also competes in pole bending. “I just love the horses and all the people you get to meet, and I like the adrenaline rush when you barrel race. I can see myself staying in it.”
Kennedy is the first of her family to ride horses and rodeo. After one of her classmates brought a pony to preschool, Kennedy made repeated requests to her parents, Jason and Susan Bruce, for a race horse. “They finally took me to lessons, and when I was 7 I got my first horse, Copper. We still have him today. I got my first real barrel horse (Speed of Light “Speed”) from Rachel Primm. It’s turned into a close friendship and she’ll let me come stay with her in the summer and ride her horses. She lives in Weatherford, Texas, and she’ll do Facetime lessons with me.”
Speed and T Bird are Kennedy’s main rodeo horses, while she has five other horses she rides and cares for. One of these is a colt she hopes will become a barrel horse. She’s the only member of her family who rides, and Kennedy’s parents are very supportive, hauling her to all her events. Her older sister, D’Andrea, comes with her two children to watch Kennedy compete as well. Kennedy also travels far beyond the rodeo grounds with her parents since Jason is an international hunter. So far, she has been to Africa, England, Scotland, and Australia. “It’s his hobby, and I have the horses,” says Kennedy, who plans to spend her summer break rodeoing and visiting Rachel in Texas.
She’s finishing her freshman year at Galt High School, where Kennedy especially enjoys her English class. “I like to read all kinds of books, and we write reports on them. I like science fiction.” She works hard to maintain good grades alongside her rodeo schedule, and plans to switch to homeschooling next year to give her more flexibility. “My pole horse is running a 23 right now, but I think she could do better, so I want to put more effort into her,” Kennedy finishes. “I’m working towards the Junior World Finals for now, and I’m hoping to make it to Nationals after state.”