Ryann Pedone Weighs in on Rodeo, Futurity Social Media Battle

Social media erupted overnight over a post-NFR round interview comment by Hailey Kinsel, but $2-million trainer Ryann Pedone puts things in perspective for all segments of barrel racers.
Stevi Hillman barrel racing at the NFR
Stevi Hillman and Sand In My Socks at the 2022 NFR. Image by Jamie Arviso.

Social media is buzzing after a conversation between Joe Beaver and Hailey Kinsel in the Round 9 buckle ceremony after Kinsel broke her own round record, won the performance and clocked the fastest time of the National Finals Rodeo up to that point. 

The full interview has not been released, but a cut clip was posted on social media by an individual via a screen recording of the broadcast the evening of December 9 that quickly went viral, regarding a comment Kinsel made about Sister’s ability to stand up and work in rodeo conditions. Kinsel used the following phrase in the posted section of the interview. 

“I’m lucky mine is one of those that stands up, keeps her feet under her. That’s the difference between a rodeo horse and a barrel horse, right there.” 

Hailey Kinsel

The comment sparked an outrage on behalf of Stevi Hillman, as it was assumed by fans that Kinsel was dissing Hillman after she had a slip at her first turn on her 70 Ranch Performance Horses owned 5-year-old mare, Sand In My Socks. 

If anybody knows what it’s like to train horses that are successful in rodeos, futurities and jackpots, it’s Ryann Pedone. Pedone is an NFR qualifier and a $2-million-earning horse trainer. Pedone not only watched the run in question from the television screen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, she watched Kassie Mowry and Sand In My Socks pocket around $150,000 during the mare’s rock-solid futurity year in 2021 and knows her style well. 

“Sand In My Socks goes for blood every time,” Pedone said. “She’s very intense. She gathers up, but she’s so aggressive and doesn’t protect herself at all. That’s just being green to the rodeo atmosphere.” 

Pedone noted that she had similar struggles with Feel The Sting, a 2013 stallion also owned by 70 Ranch Performance Horses when transitioning from the futurity to rodeo scene.

“(Feel The Sting) was so gritty and would not save himself,” Pedone said. “My dad said, ‘That sucker needs to bust his ass once, just one good time, and he’ll learn to protect himself.’” 

Pedone took Feel The Sting from his juvenile season in 2016 all the way to an NFR qualification in 2020 and had plenty of slips along the way.

Now, that theory doesn’t hold dead on with a horse like “Sandi.” Pedone also pointed out that Sandi is out of JC Pick Six by Tres Seis on the bottom, and she has personally been inside the winner’s circle on enough Tres Seis progeny to know that a horse like Sandi is going to need extra time to get solid in rodeo setups. 

“That mare will probably go in and fire at them every time,” Pedone said. “Those horses live in the moment. They have incredible confidence”

Pedone noted that Mowry and Lisa Lockhart both seasoned young horses on the rodeo scene and have experienced exactly what Sandi did firsthand, but they were able to ease horses like Promise Me Fame Guys and CP He Will Be Epic into the rodeo world after they were futuritied on by Samantha Flannery and Mowry, respectively.

Hillman tragically lost Famous Lemon Drop, her wicked fast palomino to colic on September 1, 2022 and scrambled to find a horse to take to the Thomas & Mack. Sandi got the call without much time for Hillman to prepare the mare at rodeos.

As For Kinsel’s Comment…

As somebody who knows cowgirls in both the futurity world and rodeo world and has crossed over herself, Pedone put the controversial conversation in perspective.  

“I think (Hailey Kinsel’s) comment was taken out of context,” Pedone said. “There’s like a silent war between futurity and rodeo girls, but there are definitely chips on shoulders. She has a point. Hailey’s mare is a rodeo horse. Sand In My Socks is a young horse and she doesn’t protect herself yet. That mare is a superstar, and she’ll win when she learns how to stand up.” 

Kinsel released the following statement on her social media on the morning of December 10. 

“It has come to my attention that my poorly worded comment taken out of context from the buckle presentation last night has hurt many people, including myself. My attempt to highlight the skills and talents of the horses that make the NFR every year along with those who run here, as well as compliment Sister’s unique ability to handle adverse situations, was misunderstood as if I meant to criticize certain horses at this year’s NFR. This was entirely not the case—in fact, I was unaware of the slips that happened last night prior to that interview. When we are lined up in the alley, we cannot see what happens in the arena. 

“I have spoken to my friend who rode one of those horses this morning, and the fact that she and her horse are ok, and all is good between her and I, is what matters most to me. I also mentioned in this same interview that the reason we are seeing faster times like mine is because the ground is on the slick side. I do believe the ground crew here is doing their best with a very hard job, but that is not to say there haven’t been issues. 

“We will continue to strive to improve the sport for the good of the horses, and in my opinion, that takes honesty. I will work on my phrasing of that honesty. 

“When the full video of the presentation is posted on the Cowboy Channel archives, I will share it here for context. Thank you.