Skip to content

Age is Only a Number

Bonnie Kyser hasn’t been riding as long as some, but she’s made the most of every moment in the saddle. Bonnie, or ‘Nana’ as she’s known to her grandchildren, got on a horse for the first time in 2010 and has fallen in love with barrel racing.

Bonnie is also no stranger to National Barrel Horse Association championships. She won her first division title in the Senior 3D at the 2012 Ohio NBHA State Finals and has been attending the World Show ever since. In 2017, she took home the Senior 4D World Championship aboard Chili Dog, a horse very special to the Kyser family.

“He’s so funny; I don’t know how to explain it to you,” Bonnie said fondly with a laugh. “When we got him he knew nothing—my daughter wanted to call him Alpo because he was bucking! Then after a month, we said he was like a hot dog so we called him Chili Dog.”

Bonnie’s daughter, Alisha, has trained and ridden Chili Dog since the family got him in 2005. Alisha’s equine passion began when the Kysers purchased her first horse at 8 years old, and Bonnie continued to foster her daughter’s love of horses with riding lessons throughout the years. In 2011, Alisha handed Chili Dog’s reins to Bonnie, and though it took a while to work through the gelding’s fear, he’s become a mount Bonnie can rely on.

“He’s taken such good are of me for not being an experienced rider, and he takes care of me every run. If there’s a mistake, it’s because I made it,” Bonnie said. “When we got him he knew absolutely nothing and was afraid of everything. We had to set the barrel in his stall because he was afraid of it. Alisha rode him for six years and trained him, and in 2011 she said, ‘Mom, it’s your turn.’”

The New Bloomington, Ohio, resident is retired from a phone company and enjoys the extra time spent with family and horses.
“I love taking care of my grandkids. I’m a “nanny,” and my grandkids call me Nana. My time is spent helping take care of my grandkids—three of them—and doing stuff around the house,” Bonnie said. “I have my daughter Alisha, and two older boys, Scott and Chad. Macy, Alisha’s little girl, hopefully she’ll start riding, and my other granddaughter rides a bit, and we’re all going to go sometime.”

NBHA races are a family affair for the Kysers and have provided a way for them to spend time together over the years.
“We have so many friends in the NBHA circle that have always cheered on, helped in any way,” Bonnie said. “Of course my husband, Mike, has always been behind me 100 percent and made sure my truck was running and trailer ready to go, and when we go to World he always checks everything and makes sure it’s ready to go so that we’re safe. My son Scott has also been right by my heart doing everything too.”

A highlight on Bonnie’s barrel racing schedule every year is the NBHA World Show.

“We love going to Perry, Georgia, and we always have so much fun down there. In 2012 I was a finalist and it was their 20th anniversary, so that was the first year I went,” Bonnie said. “I have been so blessed—I’ve gone since 2012 and I’ve made it back in the finals every time but one time. Believe me, it’s not luck, I’ve been blessed by God.”

By Blanche Schaefer, photo by