Kelly Kaminski

Where are you from? I grew up in Katy, Tx. My step dad was a professional baseball scout for the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas was part of his territory. We moved here from Mo. when I was about 9.

When did you start barrel racing? I got my first horse when I was in Jr. High school. She was only six months old, but when she was old enough I broke and trained her and started messing around with it. I never had any formal lessons and had to train her from the ground up, by trial and error. It’s a wonder I’m alive to tell about it today. Not coming from a “horse” family, my Mom didn’t know anything about youth or highschool rodeos and such. I never got to go anywhere. I just fantasized about one day getting to haul my horse somewhere and getting to actually compete. I didn’t start competing until I was in my 20’s, after finishing going to SHSU.

I went through some other horses when I was in highschool. When I was 16, there was a girl keeping a horse at the same place I boarded who was neglecting her horse. It was what you would see the SPCA pick up. I told her I was going to call the authorities on her, or she could sell me the horse for $80. She took the deal and I fattened the little mare up and traded her for a saddle. I didn’t have one back then and had to ride everywhere bareback.

Are you involved in any other equine events? I used to do pole bending. I made it to the AQHA World Show twice and made the top 10 on my horse Mr Dry Glo Lena.

Who or What got you started barrel racing? The first time I saw barrel racing in the Houston Astrodome as a kid, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve been real blessed that I’ve met wonderful people who’ve helped me along the way. Ronnye Sewalt was the first horseman that took me seriously. When I moved to Bellville after college, I met Marcheta Garrett. She and I used to ride almost everyday together. I learned a lot from her. She’s also the one credited with putting me in touch with the people that sold me The Brown Filly, (Athena) Rocky’s dam.

On the road sometimes things happen do you have an usual or funny story? Oh my gosh! I’ve got a whole book to fill. I remember when Mom and I used to travel in my 1/2 ton truck with a Leer aluminum camper top on it. We had a mattress in it, and made a shelf out of a piece of wood to hold a microwave, portable tv, and a jug of water. I pulled a two horse bumper pull. We were at the ANHA finals in 1995 and were parked in the middle of all these fancy rigs with living quarters. A cold front was due to come through one night and Mom was concerned. We didn’t have insulation or anything in there. Others had come by and offered blankets and I told Mom and the others not to worry, that I had brought the electric blanket and we could plug in and run a cord through the tailgate. I later discovered that I had forgotten the cord and it was one of the coldest, miserable nights ever spent. That same trip, I was washing my hair in the bathroom sink of the Travis County Expo Center, (after washing the rest of me while praying no one would walk in and see!) and Kathy Thornton walked in and saw me standing there shampooing my hair. Needless to say, she got a little upset and told me that there were showers on the other side of the complex. I told her that I had seen the showers (bugs and all) and would prefer bathing in the bathroom sink! I was humiliated and embarrassed. The next day was the finals and I won the All Around Novice Award and the trip to Vegas. We still laugh about that whole trip.

What was the name of your favorite horse and tell us a little about it. Rockem Sockem Go! Rocky is my favorite. He has his own personality and comes off like he’s so bad. He’ll bare his teeth and pick his hind leg like he’ll kick, (and he will) but he’s a gentle giant with my daughter, Kenna. I can warm him up and he’s quiet. Right before he runs he starts getting excited. When we finish, he quiets right back down and I can put Kenna on him and walk him out. That’s special to me. There is so much about him that I can’t even begin to explain. He’s just really loved by the whole family.

What are some of the events that you have won (or races that stand out in your mind)? My first big win was back in 1995 at the ANHA finals in Austin on my horse Rusty, Mr Dry Glo Lena. We won the novice horse/novice rider all around. They used to give a trip to Las Vegas to the NFR and present the winner of the ANHA an award at the WPRA luncheon. I remember thinking how much I’d love to be part of the NFR girls. That really spurred me on to making my dream come true!

In 1999, I won the Mesquite Dodge Finals and was NBHA State Reserve 1D Champion, riding Rocky. In 2000, we won the NBHA State 1D Championship and the D&G year end 1D championship. In 2001, we won reserve at the D&G. In 2002, we traveled all over this great country and won some go rounds at big rodeos and won Albequerque, NM. I was the first big rodeo I’ve won. Making the Summer Tour Finale in Dallas was a great thrill. It’s a fun rodeo because of it’s fast pace. I loved meeting the kids after the rodeo and signing autographs. My next move is the NFR. I still can’t believe I’m really getting to go with Rocky.

Over the years have you noticed any changes in barrel racing what are the good or bad you’ve seen? Of course the divisional format has really changed the sport. It’s good in some ways because everyone has a chance to win no matter what the level of the horse and rider. The negative part of the format is that it has bred complacency. I feel it’s a race and the horse and rider should want to get better. Get better equitation, positioning of the horse, faster, etc. It’s a race. I miss the novice classes and straight opens. We had a good balance of both the divisional format and the novice and straight barrel races for a while, but now all the associations have gone divisional.

Do you think of yourself as a professional barrel racer? Yes

Who is your favorite barrel racer or barrel racers? I’ve met some wonderful girls out there on the road. As far as talent, there are so many in different aspects. Tammy Key’s aggression, Janet Stover’s ability to ride quietly, Kay Blandford for getting them running so hard, Lucy Schnebele for giving me inspiration on age, Charmayne for her staying power and being able to be such a road warrior, Gail Hillman for giving me inspiration when she made the NFR, Sharon Smith for seriously telling me I could make it, there are so many more!

Do you have any advice for anyone just starting out in barrel racing? Keep your faith and be true to yourself. Find someone you can trust and work with them. Don’t worry about what the others think when you are running. The only thing that’s important is what YOU think. We’ve all fallen off and we’ve all been beginners. Remember that there are worse things in life than hitting a barrel or falling off.