December 9, 2020—Arlington, Texas— Emily Miller Beisel proved that acute attention to horsemanship is the ticket out of a slump and into the winner’s circle. Beisel and Namgis D 33 won two consecutive rounds of the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, topping Round Seven with the fastest time of the rodeo so far—16.85 on a Women’s Professional Rodeo Association standard pattern.

“This is so exciting. Last night I got back with my family at Texas Live, and we were just like, ‘That one was earned.’ We put a lot of effort and a lot of work into getting that done,” Beisel said of her Round Six win the night prior. “It’s been a tough, trying week, versus like at Vegas, I don’t want to say it fell into my lap, but it was unexpected and my horse really loved the pen [at Thomas and Mack], but I’ve struggled this week. It was awesome tonight; he was flying across the pen. He really felt good. That was such a fun run.”

Beisel has been overwhelmed by fans on the internet all day after Round Six, but the chatter hasn’t been just about her and “Chongo’s” hot streak. Barrel racers from across the country wanted to know one thing—what are the rubber bands around Beisel’s forearms connected to her swells?

“I was so waiting for that question! I had no idea I could break the internet today,” Beisel said with a laugh of her #BeiselBands. “The rubber bands, I’ve always used them since I was little; I did in the pole bending too. I’d get my elbows out and actually hit some poles with my elbows, so I’ve been doing it for 20 years. It just depends what the setup is like.”

The two-time Wrangler NFR qualifier attributes the error in her own equitation to her horse’s struggles in the first couple rounds.

“When I ran in the first two rounds, I couldn’t really figure out why Chongo didn’t want to turn the first barrel,” Beisel said. “It wasn’t the lack of fence or that sort of thing, so I had my helper Jana video from behind in practice, and when I went to the first barrel, I was popping my elbow out. I call it ‘opening the door,’ but when I was doing that he was locking me out with his ribs. Then I’d have to pull on him, and he does not really like to be pulled on, so it was causing some problems.”

Beisel went even farther than studying her own videos, pulling footage of Chongo running with his trainer, NFR barrel racer and futurity champion Kylie (Ward) Weast and analyzing how she guided him with her hands and positioned her arms.

“She’s been riding him, and she helps me so much—the whole family does. I feel like I’m their fourth red-headed stepchild!” Beisel said with a laugh of the legendary Youree-Ward family. “I studied her and was like, ‘I need to get my elbows in.'”

The rubber bands loop around her forearm and connect with a string to her saddle horn. Though the bands broke at the first barrel in Round Six, Beisel says for her purposes they don’t necessarily need to be on the entire run.

“I’d never actually banded to my swells before, I’d always banded to my belt loops, but I thought it was going to be more conducive. It’s been a lot of fun trying to answer those questions online today!” Beisel laughed. “I had no idea it would be such a big deal. They’re mid-forearm, and it’s actually string that’s tied around my swells since you can’t tie a rubber band. It broke last night at the first barrel, but it served its purpose. It got me to the first barrel and kept me centered and squared and he ran right up into the hole. The second I sat down, I had my horse right underneath me.”

Riding two-handed around the first barrel also helps another weakness Beisel says she’s struggled with as a rider—dropping her shoulder before the turn.

“I can ride him one-handed around the first barrel, but it’s more of a safety net for me. I tend to lean to the first barrel with my shoulder,” Beisel said. “Dona Kay Rule told me that you cannot beat your horse or yourself to the turn with your shoulder. You’ve got to get your shoulders back, so it’s an issue as a rider I’m constantly working to improve upon. The two-handed thing is just in case I ‘oops’ so I can get him pulled back out.”

Competing at the highest level requires horsemanship at the highest level. Beisel is leaving no detail overlooked as she continues to fine-tune her jockeying and body position so Chongo can shine.

“The last two rounds have been a lot of fun. He’s loving it, so I’m going to try and stay out of his way and let him do his job,” Beisel said.

No. 1 Hailey Kinsel and No. 2 Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi remain in a heated battle for the world championship. Kinsel padded her lead in the world with a second-place finish on DM Sissy Hayday with a 16.90, but only one second separates Kinsel and Tonozzi in the high-paying aggregate.

Notable horse changes include Tonozzi getting off Ima Famous Babe and onto Kisskiss Bangbang (“Mona”). After downing a barrel in Round Six, Shelley Morgan changed from HR Fameskissandtell to Kinda Heavenly (JL Dash Ta Heaven x Kindabugginme x Bug In My Frosty). Jimmie Smith stepped off Lena On The Rocks for the first time this Finals, opting for Lever Action (Another Hero x Katys Luck x Eternal Mount). Ryann Pedone rode Robin Weaver’s VQ Im Buzzed (“Big P”), a 2014 full brother to VQ Sucker Punch, by Dash Ta Fame and out of Honor This Nonstop by Mr Honor Bound.


Rank, Name, Horse, Time, Money Won

  1. Emily Miller Beisel, Namgis D 33, 16.85, $26,230.77
  2. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 16.90, $20,730.77
  3. Shelley Morgan, Kinda Heavenly, 17.06, $15,653.85
  4. Brittany Barnett, Frenchmans Pick, 17.16, $11,000
  5. Wenda Johnson, SR Industry Titan, 17.21, $6,769.23
  6. Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 17.30, $4,230.77
  7. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, 17.45
  8. Cheyenne Wimberley, Dash Ta Suz, 17.49
  9. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Kisskiss Bangbang, 17.50
  10. Tiany Schuster, Famous Mic Guy Ver, 17.54 
  11. Jill Wilson, Lean Mean Blue Dean, 17.68
  12. Jimmie Smith, Lever Action, 17.91
  13. Ryann Pedone, VQ Im Buzzed, 17.93
  14. Jessie Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 27.53*
  15. Lisa Lockhart, Rosas Cantina CC, 32.27***
Shelley Morgan turning a barrel at the NFR
Shelley Morgan finished third in Round Seven of the 2020 Wrangler NFR on Kinda Heavenly (JL Dash Ta Heaven x Kindabugginme x Bug In My Frosty) with a 17.06. Photo by Kenneth Springer


Rank, Name, Time on seven runs

  1. Hailey Kinsel, 120.70
  2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 121.70
  3. Jill Wilson, Lean Mean Blue Dean, 122.37
  4. Jessica Routier, 122.54
  5. Jimmie Smith, 123.43
  6. Ryann Pedone, 125.43
  7. Emily Miller Beisel, 126.18
  8. Shelley Morgan, 127.30
  9. Tiany Schuster, 127.76
  10. Wenda Johnson, 128.35
  11. Cheyenne Wimberley, 128.43
  12. Stevi Hillman, 130.94
  13. Jessie Telford, 132.69
  14. Brittany Barnett, 132.75
  15. Lisa Lockhart, 150.65
Hailey Kinsel turning a barrel
Hailey Kinsel holds onto her lead in the world and the aggregate of the 2020 Wrangler NFR through Round Seven. Photo by Kenneth Springer


Rank, Name, Hometown, Earnings

  1. Hailey Kinsel, $208,614.71
  2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $169,494.07
  3. Jimmie Smith, $128,752.83
  4. Shelley Morgan, $114,267.27
  5. Stevi Hillman, $111,042.54
  6. Lisa Lockhart, $108,865.68
  7. Emily Miller Beisel, $104,849.73
  8. Tiany Schuster, $101,021.92
  9. Jill Wilson, $79,870.97
  10. Cheyenne Wimberley, $79,039.30
  11. Dona Kay Rule, $77,453.54
  12. Jessica Routier, $77,024.78
  13. Brittany Barnett, $70,296.10
  14. Wenda Johnson, $63,491.60
  15. Jessie Telford, $59,477.20
  16. Ryann Pedone, $52,580.60 

Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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