Makayla Winkler

First off, would you like to tell us a little about yourself? Sure, My name is Makayla Winkler. I am a 17 year old barrel racer from southern Illinois. I have barrel raced all of my life, and I never intend on stopping. Eventually I would like to get into training a few of my own colts and hopefully seeing what I can do with them. I have two wonderful parents who have supported me 100% of the way, and I know for a fact without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Where are you from? I’ve been born, and raised in southern Illinois. I live in a small town outside of Mt. Vernon that has about 200 people, and that’s probably counting the people in the cemetery to be completely honest.

When did you start barrel racing? Since before I was born, my mom rode and barrel raced a little while she was pregnant with me. I started barrel racing my pony Pancake when I was 3 years old

Are you involved in any other equine events? Well, I go to some sortings every now and then, and I pole bend, but barrel racing is definitely my main event.

Who or What got you started barrel racing? My mom, I remember sitting on my pony watching her at all the shows thinking, “Wow! I want to be just like her when I get older!” and she has always been super supportive of me and what I wanted to do.

What do you do throughout the week to prepare yourself and your horse for a barrel race? Well, I just try to ride almost every day that week, nothing too different than what I normally do. The day before a show I really focus on bending and flexing, just to make sure the horse is listening to me.

What was the name of your favorite horse and tell us a little about it. His name is Smoke, an 8 year old black gelding, owned by Dale and Donna Prosise, from Salem, Illinois. They let me ride him for a summer and I was very competitive with him from the very beginning. I think it was more of a love, hate relationship between us. I loved him because he is such an amazing barrel horse, but he had a horrible attitude most of the time. I guess that’s just what kept everything interesting.

Do you have any major goals for this upcoming show season? I didn’t get to rodeo a whole lot last summer like I had planned on doing so I hope to make it to more this summer. I would also like to get a nice colt, start him, and hopefully make something of him.

Do you consider yourself a successful barrel racer? Well, I guess you could say that yes. I mean, being successful just means that you have improved and such, right? In the past year I have become more competitive so, sure.

Over the years have you noticed any changes in barrel racing what are the good or bad you’ve seen? I feel like in the past few years there has definitely been more interest in barrel racing. I know that just around the local saddle clubs and places like that there are more memberships now than there has been in the past.

What is do you think of an equal pay out 4d? I think that it’s a good thought but it almost seems unfair for the people that are in the 1D, because people who get for example, third in the 1D will end up making less money than the person that placed 1st in the 2D, while the person that got third in the 1D ran a faster time than the person that won the 2D.

Are you drawn to a certain line of horses? I’ve always liked the race bred horses. Every horse I’ve ever competed on has been a runner beforehand.

If your not a professional barrel racer what do you do for a living? I make my entire earnings from barrel racing. I don’t actually have time for a job right now, between riding and school.

Who is your favorite barrel racer or barrel racers? Charmayne James and Sherry Cervi, definitely.

Do you have any advice for anyone just starting out in barrel racing? Soak up all the advice you can from the veterans, regardless to what you think you know, they always know a thing or two more than you do. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think they might be “stupid”. You’ll learn a lot more if you ask and get the right answer instead of sit around and try to figure out the answer yourself, and it end up being wrong.

Do you think barrel racing should be limited to women only? No sir I do not. I have seen many great runs by guys, which we wouldn’t have had the pleasure to watch if barrel racing was limited to only women. I do think that rodeos should be limited to only women; men have all the other events to do.