Set attainable goals with help from world champion Hailey Kinsel. 

By Hailey Kinsel

Hello Barrel Horse News readers! I am so excited to share some of my experiences each month through this column. 

One important aspect of rodeoing is goal-setting, so I would like to share a little with you about my personal goal-setting habits. Since these are “personal,” this is simply my opinion on goal setting. This is what I found works best for me, and there may be a few readers who could benefit from this practice. 

It is common to hear that setting “small goals” in the short term is wise. I agree with that idea, and for me, that means very, very small, even intangible. 

My short-term goals are not results based, but rather, they are performance based. For example, I do not say I want to “Make the short go,” at such-and-such rodeo, but I may say I want to “Make a smooth, clean run,” at that rodeo. The reason for this is because making the short go is widely out of my control, as is any results-based goal. 

There are too many factors contributing to it—I cannot control the clock on my run, nor on everyone else’s run. All I can control is what happens before, during, and after my run. Focusing on those performance-based goals helps me stay focused on taking care of my business, and keeps me from getting wrapped up in things I cannot control. 

Long-term goals are a funny concept to me, and often border the line of “desirable goals” rather than truly attainable goals. What I mean is sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves by making something a goal that we are not yet prepared for. I try to say, “Someday, I hope I can make this goal.” I do write down a list of longterm desirable goals, but they change throughout the years as life changes. I once had a desirable goal of being an Olympic gymnast; needless to say, life changes and so do those desirable goals. Now, I would still love to be an Olympic gymnast, but that is not an attainable goal for me. I had a desirable goal of making the National Finals Rodeo someday, but I did not consider it a goal until it was attainable.

For example, when I was a freshman in college trying to survive my classes I did not have a rodeo-caliber horse, so the NFR was not on my goals list for that year. As time went on and things changed, it became an attainable goal and felt so good to finally write it down. I think because I had kept it at bay as a desire for so long, when it became something I could possibly reach, it was exciting. The same goes for winning the world championship. Did I always dream of holding up that buckle? You bet. Did I write it down as a desire? Of course. But if you really want to know when “world champion” became a goal, it was March of 2018, after the winter run had ended. I knew then I had the NFR made, and could focus on something bigger for the rest of the year. This goal moved into primary position and slightly changed my short-term plans, as I knew if I played my hand smartly, I could have a chance to win the world championship by the end of the year.

 If you are at all like me and put enough pressure on yourself to compete, maybe you could try setting little, bitty attainable goals in this way. Let’s say you are wanting to rodeo this year. Your first goal could be, “Finish the year in the top 100,” so you get the opportunity to enter some limited rodeos next year. If you are pulling that off with flying colors, move up to aiming for the top 50, so you can get into even bigger rodeos and run for more money. Edit your goals as the year goes on, depending on the results. In your short term, week-to-week goals, focus on your performance—how is your horse’s condition, your diet and exercise, your mental game, your riding, your horse’s habits in the pattern? Working on these performance-based goals can help you move closer towards your long-term, desirable goals, whatever they may be. 

Until next time,

Hailey Kinsel

This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of Barrel Horse News.


Hailey Kinsel is a two-time WPRA World Champion barrel racer with more than $1 million in lifetime reported earnings. Each month she shares her tips, advice and expertise with Barrel Horse News readers in "World Champion Reflections" found each month in the magazine and online. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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