Eastern Charlotte teen headed to barrel racing world championships

(Robert Fisher photo) Kailynn Hatt and her horse, Dexter, practice near their home in Back Bay in preparation for their trip to world championships in Georgia later in July.

BACK BAY – A 16-year-old Back Bay girl will try her hand at the world barrel racing championships this summer.

Kailynn Hatt and her horse, Dexter, will travel to the National Barrel Horse Association Youth & Teen Championships in Georgia in July.

Hatt has been riding for 12 years and competing professionally in barrel racing for three years. She qualified for the same world championship event last year, but the family decided against going due to COVID-19.

Prior to barrel racing, Hatt did jumping and some western riding, “because it was a speed event.”

She saw Dexter at an event and said, “I like that one. He’s fast, mom.”

Most of the barrel racing in New Brunswick takes place in Sussex, so Hatt and her family make the trip a couple times a month for practice and competitions.

She had to place in the top six in a division to qualify for the world championships. Hatt took first place in the third division in both the youth and open categories. In the open category, she races against adults.

Hatt was born and lived in Sussex when she was younger. Her mother, Kerri, says the family joke is that Hatt smelled too much manure when she was younger and that’s why she got into horse racing.

Georgia will be hot in July and they will have to take extra precautions to keep Dexter safe and healthy.

“We’re going to bring a lot of fans,” said Hatt. They also have towels that get cold when wet that they’ll use to help bring the horse’s temperature down. They’re fundraising to get a blanket of the same fabric. The competition will be indoors and there are fans in the arena to help keep the horses comfortable.

“I’m just hoping I don’t knock a barrel, at this point, and at least get some kind of placing,” Hatt said of her hopes for the event.

She said she gets anxious when she gets her expectations up, so keeping her hopes in check allows her to be calmer and compete better.

She has some sponsorship to help defray costs of the trip and is doing some fundraising. Anyone wanting to keep up with her world championship journey can check out her Facebook page, Kailynn’s Worlds Adventure.

A lover of speed, Hatt said the biggest thing she likes about barrel racing is “adrenaline, which is weird to say, but yeah.”

“You’ve always had an obsession, like at four years old,” added Kerri.

“Yeah, I have no idea how to explain it,” said Hatt. “I just like the rush of it all.”

From all the information the family has and what they’ve been told from the head of the local association, Hatt may be the first youth rider from the Maritimes to participate at the world championships. She also qualified for the open championship taking place in October, also in Georgia, but the timing conflicts with lobster season and the family are lobster fishers.