Meet the Member Kelsey Mabry

by Rodeo News

2018 IPRA Champion Rookie of the Year

story by Michele Toberer

The International Professional Rodeo Association feels as much like home to Kelsey Mabry as her own living room in Piedmont, Alabama. That might be because she’s been competing in IPRA rodeos for years and the majority of her family is there competing alongside her. Last year was Kelsey’s first year as an IPRA cardholder and she was the 2018 IPRA Champion Rookie of the Year, finishing 3rd in the world breakaway roping standings. It was a special IFR-49 for Kelsey, as both she and her sister Kayley Kennemer were competing in breakaway roping there, and her husband, Zack Mabry, competing as a team roper. “It was great qualifying for the IFR and competing there with my husband and my sister. Zack won the average and my sister won a round. That’s the one thing I love most about this sport is the family lifestyle aspect. It’s not just one of us that is chasing this dream, it’s all of us, and that makes it really special to me.”
Kelsey, the oldest of three Kennemer daughters, is originally from Anderson, Alabama, where her parents Shelley and Johnny Kennemer still live with her youngest sister Kamey, 14. Kaylee, 19, is college rodeoing as well as competing at IPRA rodeos. Kelsey and her sisters grew up with rodeo as a main focus of their time and schedule as they competed and watched their parents and grandparents rodeo throughout their lives. Kelsey’s parents met at an IPRA rodeo and they married and rodeoed for a living for 30 years. Shelley barrel races and Johnny competes as a team roper. Shelley’s mom barrel raced, and her dad roped calves, and she has two sisters that rodeoed as well. Shelley works as a schoolteacher now, but still competes at IRPA rodeos on the weekends. “My dad’s uncle team ropes and most all of my mama’s side still rodeos; there are often three generations of us at a rodeo.”
Kelsey graduated from West Limestone High School in 2012 and went on to college rodeo for Troy University in Alabama, where she met her husband Zack Mabry. She transferred to East Mississippi Community College, and after qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo in 2013, 2014, and 2015, Kelsey went back home to Athens State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry in 2016. Her first year at the CNFR she qualified in breakaway roping, the second year in breakaway, barrel racing, and team roping, and in 2015 she qualified in team roping and barrel racing. Zack received his bachelor’s degree in business marketing from the University of Tennessee Martin in 2015, and the couple married in April 2017. Although in college Kelsey competed as a heeler, after marrying Zack she switched to heading so they could compete together at ropings. Kelsey now works as a clinical assistant at an orthodontist office in Oxford, Alabama, and Zack works in his family’s cattle business where he helps run cattle and ride colts. “We stay really busy and are on the road every weekend going to rodeos or jackpots somewhere.”
The horse that has carried her in breakaway roping for the past 8 years is Chappy, a 21-year-old red roan gelding. “He’s been the most honest horse I’ve ever had, and very dependable to do his job. He’s went a ton of miles for me and I owe him a lot more than he owes me.” Currently sitting in the top spot in the breakaway standings, Kelsey looks forward to the 2019 IFR-50. “It’s a really fun finals and such a big deal to be there. The IPRA is one of the largest associations in the U.S. and I know the 50-year anniversary is going to be a blast.”
“I honestly don’t want to do anything else. This is the lifestyle we choose and when you’re this deep into it you really can’t do it halfway because it requires so much. I like that my whole family rodeos because it takes a lot of support to live this rodeo lifestyle, and the fact that we’re all focused on the same thing makes it all work. I’m so thankful to my husband and family for supporting me.”

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