/ A Pro’s Tale /
Laymon grew up in a non-horse family but started asking for a horse at age 5. At age 10,
her parents finally gave in.
“They sold their boat and camper, and they bought me my first horse,” she says. He was
a 4-year-old, and with the help of a mentor, she jumped right into training and showing.
“I showed all over the country and ended up winning national championships and some
world titles,” says Laymon.
“I was doing horsemanship, western pleasure, showmanship, hunt seat equitation, trail,
western riding, reining. I wanted to do everything.”
/ A Beginner’s Journey /
Kichler grew up on a ranch but had never
ridden barrels or competed until recently.
She always loved watching the barrel
racers at the rodeo, and the youngest of
her four children competed. With all her
children now adults, it was her turn to
give it a whirl.
“I started out really slow because I
“She would like to go a lot faster,
was scared to death,” says Kichler, who
also serves as the National Barrel Horse
Association (NBHA) director for the
Kansas 02 region. “At 47, I competed at
our local NBHA competitions and won a
buckle that year.”
Shoulder surgery kept her out of
competition the following year, but
now she’s back at it, this time riding her
daughter’s 20-year-old American Quarter
Horse mare, Miami.
but she stays with me,” Kichler says of
the mare her daughter used to race on.
“She’s dumped me three or four times,
not on purpose, just because she’s so
quick, and I’m not. It took about two
years to completely trust each other.
That’s why she stays with me now. She
2D level—the faster levels of NBHA
knows that if she gets away too fast, I’ll
end up on the ground. You really have
to bond with your horse, and then good
things will happen.”
To other adult riders interested in
taking up barrel racing, Kichler offers the
following advice: “Find a horse that is
suitable to you. Start out slow and make
little goals for yourself. Don’t aim too
high right off the bat.”
Miami used to compete at a 1D and
competition. However, Kichler started
out at the 4D level.
“Right now, I just want to stay within
my district and get my confidence built
up, and get my level higher as I go.”
Kichler finds NBHA members and her
husband’s support most important on her
journey, and she stays in shape working
on the farm and riding frequently.
“If you really love it, go for it,” she says. F E S S L
picked up the
sport of barrel
racing at age 46,
and loves the