Fans in the stands in the fifth round of the 2022 National Finals Rodeo had a special treat; they got to see two of the most popular modern barrel racers, Lisa Lockhart and Hailey Kinsel, tie for the barrel racing win.
The performance saw downed barrels adding five seconds to two of the fastest runs clocked in the 2022 NFR—Emily Beisel’s would have been a 13.29, and Leslie Smalygo tipped to turn in a 13.47-second run.
Kassie Mowry and CP He Will Be Epic “Will” were second out, and completed the course in a smooth 13.57. Mowry had the round sewn up until 16-time NFR qualifier Lisa Lockhart and Promise Me Fame Guys, “Levee,” were a nearly flawless 13.52. At the bottom of the pack, Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday, “Sister,” matched her time to split the round win. Both Lockhart and Kinsel have placed no worse than fourth since Round 2.
Lockhart (57) unofficially won her first NFR go-round in Round 3 of her first NFR in 2007 aboard IR Peppys Breeze, “Sterling,” when Kinsel (28) was around 13 years old. Since then, she has captured 15 more round wins aboard five different horses in total: IR Peppys Breeze, “Sterling,” An Oakie Wish Cash, “Louie,” Prime Diamond, “Cutter,” CC Rosas Cantina, “Rosa,” and most recently, Levee.
Kinsel captured her first go-round win in 2017, the same year that Lockhart crossed the $1 million mark in earnings solely inside the Thomas & Mack. Ironically, Kinsel crossed that milestone after her Round 4 win—one day before she and Lockhart tied for the fifth round victory.
Kinsel remembers competing side-by-side with Lockhart and another idol of hers on a huge stage for the first time.
“I don’t know if I remember the first time I saw (Lisa) run in person, but I do remember I geeked out at the American in 2017,” Kinsel said. “The way that they set up the run order—I was coming in as a qualifier—well her and Sherry (Cervi) were invites and (The American) had done it so invite and qualifier ran every other one. I ran between Lisa and Sherry and I was like, starstruck. I thought it was so cool.”
Fast forward five years, and Kinsel has surpassed Lockhart for NFR go-round wins. Unofficially, Lockhart has topped 16 rounds in total after 16 consecutive NFR trips and Kinsel has topped an impressive 17 in six years.
While Kinsel has taken three trips to the post-performance go-round buckle presentation at the South Point Hotel & Casino in 2022, Lockhart hadn’t made an NFR victory lap since the 2020 NFR in Arlington, Texas.
After 16 trips to the NFR and 16 go-round wins, it begs the question: Does the shine ever wear off?
“I love competing, I love riding and I love coming to the NFR,” Lockhart said. “Whether it be 16 times or 1, you just don’t take it for granted. But this is refreshing, it’s exciting, it’s exactly what I needed.”
Kinsel was quick to compliment the traits that have helped Lockhart stay on top for many years.
“The reason Lisa is so consistent, results wise is because she’s so consistent riding wise,” Kinsel said. “She rides to the same spot every time. She keeps her hands soft. Those horses know how to respond to that, and I truly believe that they get more confident in her every run, not just in their barrel run or their talent. They know she’s not going to put them out of place.”
Kinsel also believed Lockhart’s habits are the reason 6-year-old Levee is seemingly unphased by the bright lights in Vegas.
“That’s why you’re starting to see a young horse like Levee step up and look as consistent as Louie was all this time, because (Lisa) is consistent,” Kinsel added.
In response, Lockhart was fast to turn the praise back on Kinsel.
“Hailey rides very consistently and tries to do the same thing,” Lockhart said. “You adapt to the horse to the best of your ability, but yet try to do the same things so that you can have it become muscle memory, like the same thing (Hailey) does with Sister and what we’ve watched her do with Jules.”
Listen to Kinsel and Lockhart’s full interview on The Money Barrel.
World Title and Aggregate Watch
The plot gets thicker. After Round 5, Lockhart and Kinsel both moved within striking distance of a world title. Kinsel overtook the No. 1 positon in the world after her $25,882 win, with $225,224 over Jordon Briggs’ $222,289. No. 3 is held down by Wenda Johnson with an unofficial $177,763 and Lockhart has jumped from No. 14 entering the finals to No. 4 with $170,186 won.
It’s early to discuss the aggregate, but it’s worth nothing that Lockhart is holding down the No. 1 position with 68.71 on five runs, and Briggs is in second with a time of 68.94 over five runs. Johnson is within aggregate conversation in the No. 4 positon, while Kinsel is down the list at No. 8 because of a downed barrel in round 1. However, she is the highest placing cowgirl in the aggregate with a penalty for a downed barrel as of Round 5.
NFR Round 5 Barrel Racing Payout