The Berthoud, Colorado, cowgirl also suffered a fractured skull and two broken vertebrae in the freak accident.

CHEYENNE – Doctors weren’t sure if barrel racer Kelly Kennedy-Joseph was going to fully recover from a freak accident she went through two years ago.

Kennedy-Joseph was competing at a jackpot in Eaton, Colorado, when she was getting on her horse and the horse panicked and threw her off into a horse trailer. She was transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital.

As a result, Kennedy-Joseph suffered three fractured bones in her skull, three brain bleeds, and broken C5 and C6 vertebrae in her neck.

Although she still gets headaches from her traumatic brain injury, she has since recovered and has gotten back to doing what she has done her whole life.

“It’s amazing to come back from that,” she said. “Even when I don’t go out there and do my best, it’s just a blessing to be able to get on a horse, be here and do what I do.

“Just to come back and enjoy barrel racing again and have this strength in my life is amazing.”

The Berthoud, Colorado, resident is grateful to be able to race again, especially at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

“Having this great rodeo, pretty much, here in my backyard is wonderful,” Kennedy-Joseph said. “The energy every time you walk into here is just unbelievable. My grandfather rode saddle bronc here in the 1920s, so there is history here in my family and I’m glad I can be a part of that.”

Kennedy-Joseph has a large fan club that was started by her friends and family. The follow members follow her to rodeos and support her as much as they can.

“All of that support (from the fan club) fulfills me no matter what I do inside or outside of the arena,” she said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for all of them.”

Kennedy-Joseph has competed at the “Daddy of ’em All” six different times and is still looking for her first CFD title.

She barely made it to the performances when she placed 70th in the qualifying rounds with a time of 18.24. The top 72 times moved on.

The 42-year-old cowgirl advanced to the semifinals after timing a 17.35-second run in last Saturday’s quarterfinals, the third-fastest time of that round.

Unfortunately, Kennedy-Joseph and her horse, Jammer, will not compete for a title in the final performance Sunday. She was two spots out of making the cut with a time of 18.05 in Friday’s semifinal round.

“It didn’t feel as good usual (Friday), we felt a little choppy,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I held my horse the best, but she went in and tried. I wasn’t quite hanging with her, I just didn’t have my timing right.”

Aside from the competition, she is just thankful for where she is at right now following her injury.

“Everything is just a blessing,” she said. “Whatever is meant to be is meant to be.”

Local Hands

Cole Reiner of Kaycee, Wyoming, and Seth Lee Hardwick of Ranchester, Wyoming, rode for an 82 and 78.5, respectively, in Friday’s semifinal bareback riding round. Both scores were shy of putting them into the finals Sunday.

Brothers Kellan and Carson Johnson, of Casper, Wyoming, clocked in at 10.5 seconds in team roping and will compete again today to attempt to send themselves to the championship round.

Barrel racers Carla Beckett and Karson Bradley both rode in Friday’s semifinal round. Beckett, a resident of Laramie, Wyoming, timed a 23.30, which will not give her an opportunity to compete for a title. Bradley placed in the top six with a time of 17.76 and will race again Sunday.

Robert Munoz is an intern for WyoSports. He can be reached at

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