VHS student barreling toward equestrian career

Kendra Goldschmidt has been barrel racing since the age of 12. She finished 14th out of approximately 45 barrel racers in the state this season. Pictured, she rounds a barrel on her horse, Barbee. (submitted photo)

Kendra Goldschmidt is turning her passion for barrel racing into a potential career. 

Kendra, now a senior at Valmeyer High School, started riding horses as a tween while spending time with a friend who frequently rode on trails.

She eventually got her own horse to ride with her friend. She began taking lessons at The Riding Center in Freeburg, where her instructor introduced her to a form of horse riding called barrel racing. 

“I didn’t come from a rodeo family at all,” the 17-year-old said. “I just started taking lessons and the lady I took lessons from actually barrel raced. So that’s kind of how I got into barrel racing and knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Although her family did not have a background in this new passion, they supported her endeavors. 

“I just told her that it was going to be a lot of work, especially with us not coming from a farm background,” Chad Goldschmidt, Kendra’s father, said. “But I told her I would stick with her and support her if she worked hard at it.” 

By age 12, Kendra was competing in barrel racing events and has continued doing so for the last five years. 

The goal of barrel racing is to run a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels placed in a triangular pattern on a dirt surface. The fastest time wins. The sport is coed.  

“It’s just a rush,” she said. “It’s so much fun. You get all of the anticipation of the crowd and making a fast run. I just love it.”

Kendra loves the sport so much she is in the process of filling out her pro card with the Illinois Professional Rodeo Association.

To complete the card, racers must buy it then fill it out by earning a certain amount of money by winning cash prizes at events. Once completed, the cardholder is considered a professional barrel racer. 

Kendra said she hopes to make barrel racing her career once she completes her pro card. 

Her parents have continued encouraging Kendra as she begins the process of turning professional.

“I still feel about it like I did back when she started,” Chad said. “If she continues to work hard at it like she has been, I’ll keep supporting her. And she has worked so hard at it. She’s very dedicated to her horses.”  

In the meantime, Kendra competes in a variety of ways. 

One way she races is through the Illinois High School Rodeo Association, serving as the only representative from her school. 

As part of that organization, she competed in the state finals at New Berlin in Sangamon County. 

On her first run, her horse Barbee fell on top of her, resulting in a “no time” score. 

The horse appeared to hurt herself during the fall, so Kendra did not want to race with her again that day. Kendra also took some bumps from the fall, bruising her thigh, hurting her calf because Barbee stepped on it and having the saddle ram her in the stomach. 

Despite those discomforts, Kendra borrowed a friend’s horse to finish the round. She managed to place sixth that round even after the accident. 

Barbee was sore from the fall the next day, which impacted her speed.

Due to that no time and one caused by hitting a barrel earlier in the season, Kendra finished 14th in the state for the season. There are approximately 45 barrel racers in the state who compete through IHSRA. 

Only the top four racers in the state earned a place in the national finals. 

“It was disappointing that we missed our shot at nationals because that would be a great experience for us,” Kendra said of her and Barbee, who she has been competing with for three years. “All I can say is I’m thankful I didn’t hurt myself more or she didn’t break a leg because that would have been pretty severe.”

Although she did not make it to the national finals, Chad said he admired how Kendra pushed through adversity. 

“It makes me very proud of her,” he said. “But it is kind of heartbreaking to see her go so far and work so hard just to see it end like that.” 

At rodeos, riders get one horse and one run. There are also other typical rodeo events and a crowd of spectators. There are no age divisions.

There are age divisions, however, at barrel racing events where racers and over 200 horses compete in only barrel races. At these competitions, racers are separated into youth, adult and open divisions. 

Kendra competes in those races through Mississippi Valley Productions in Waterloo, a group of barrel racing enthusiasts who bring races to the area.

In those competitions, racers can enter as many times as they want and with as many horses as they want until they are satisfied with their time. 

Kendra currently only has Barbee, but is planning to purchase another horse. 

After she graduates from VHS, Kendra said she plans to attend college and join her university’s barrel racing team. 

She is currently considering enrolling at the University of Tennessee-Martin or Tarleton State University in Texas.

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James Moss

James is an alumni of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mass communications and applied communications studies. While in school, he interned at two newspapers and worked at a local grocery store to pay for his education. When not working for the Republic-Times, he enjoys watching movies, reading, playing video games and spending time with his friends.
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