The Kelly Kaminski Run for Vegas junior barrel racing event has been a family affair for some of the competitors at this year’s Junior World Finals. Three sets of sisters – Logann and Paisley Busick of Atascadero, California; Brittan Dee and Jentri Hill of Sulphur Springs, Texas; and Kaylee and Kandice Eiter of Hayden, Idaho – all had their second runs Friday inside the Wrangler Rodeo Arena.
Brittan and Kaylee will compete in the short go-round Saturday after both finished in the top 20 in the average, with Brittan sitting fourth and Kaylee seventh.
“This has been a blast,” said Brittan, a 12-year-old sixth grader making her Junior World Finals debut.
Brittan had a 14.949-second run Friday to place second in the second go-round and has a two-run time of 30.251 seconds. Impressive numbers for a JWF rookie who has been riding Cinnamon for less than a year.
“We qualified in April and I had only been riding her for a month or two,” Brittan said. “She’s very calm so whenever we get ready to run you have to get her hyped up because you don’t want to run slow. I trust her so much and she takes care of me every time we go into the arena.”
Her sister Jentri is also making her Junior World Finals debut. She had two solid runs on Finn but finished 32nd in the average with a two-run time of 31.385 seconds. But the 13-year-old seventh grader shares her sister’s sentiments about the week in Vegas.
“This has been amazing,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”
Brittan and Jentri got their first horse a little more than two years ago and didn’t start competing until 18 months ago. Both have proved to be quick learners.
“When we first started we shared the same horse, the same saddle … everything,” Jentri recalled. “And then my dad bought a horse at an auction and he gave it to her.”
“I was ready to move up,” Brittan said with a smile. “Jentri stayed back on Finn because she loved him and she didn’t want daddy to sell him.”
“He’s my favorite,” Jentri said of Finn. “We have his papers and my name is on there so my dad can’t sell him.”
After Jentri’s run Friday, she sat atop Cinnamon and cheered Brittan’s run. The bond of sisterhood …
“I don’t care if she wins or if I win,” Jentri said. “I just love her and it’s the greatest thing in the world to race against my sister. I admire her so much for how much work she puts in to everything that she does every day. She’s just the greatest sister you could ask for.”
Brittan feels the same way about her older sister.
“We love to challenge each other,” she said. “It’s a big competition, but at the end of the day we just love each other to death.”
Logann and Paisley Busick share those sentiments about each other. That was obvious Friday when Logann, 13, knocked over a barrel and then broke the pattern to finish with a no-time after finishing fourth in the first go with a 15.085. Paisley was one of the first people to console Logann after her run.
“This sport is very humbling,” Logann said, “but I just have to have the mindset that I’m just going to forget about this race and look forward to the next one. You’re going to have good runs and bad runs, so you have to appreciate the good runs and don’t focus on the bad runs.”
The eighth grader also qualified for Vegas last year, but having her younger sister qualify this year has been an added bonus.
“She made it at one of the last qualifiers,” Logann said of Paisley. “I just wanted her to make it because I wanted her to get the experience of how amazing it is to run at the Junior World Finals.”
Paisley finished 40th in the average with a two-run time of 31.291 seconds. Her 15.495-second run Friday was more than three-tenths of a second faster than her time in the first go thanks to some quick thinking on her part.
“This is actually a really hard pen because the third (barrel) is on the fence and the first (barrel) is on the fence,” she said with an authoritative voice. “A lot of horses are blowing by it, but today my horse wrapped it and almost knocked it over so I had to save it with my hand. Sometimes that’s what you have to do.”
Even though this is Paisley’s first trip to the Junior World Finals, the 9-year-old third grader is an experienced competitor. She started riding when she was 2 and won her first buckle at her first barrel race. As dedicated as she is to the sport she expects to keep collecting buckles and saddles.
“I don’t really do any other sports because I’m so focused on barrel racing,” she said. “I love running barrels, I love competing and I love my horse (Romeo). He’s nice and chill and sometimes we make the run and sometimes we don’t, and that’s OK. It’s not your last try in the whole entire world.”
After understandably shedding some tears after her run, Logann embraced that thought. Soon, that run was a distant memory as she talked glowingly about Paisley.
“I love watching her runs because she’s such an amazing rider and she works so hard,” Logann said. “I’m very proud of her.”