Joyce Loomis-Kernek was born Joyce Shelley and grew up in the Mogollon Mountains of New Mexico on a cattle ranch. She and her two brothers learned to ride before they could walk. As she grew, she knew right away that she loved to go fast.
A neighbor gave Joyce some past issues of Western Horseman magazine. It was there that she learned of all the famous barrel racers of that period and she knew she wanted to do what they were doing. Her dad got her some barrels and she ran everything she could around those barrels, even dad’s mules. A family friend gave her a Palomino that she named Pal and she won her first Barrel Racing buckle at a local fair in 1956.
Joyce attended New Mexico State University and was a member of the Rodeo Team. She began competing in goat tying, barrel racing and roping events. When she saw a flyer for Miss Rodeo New Mexico, she and her friend decided Joyce should enter. Her friend schooled her on patterns and lead changes and loaned her horse. Joyce won and was given the opportunity to compete at the Miss Rodeo America contest in Las Vegas. The state supported her and she flew to the contest, in the Governor’s airplane, in November. Her goal was to win Horsemanship and she did. However, she was shocked when they announced her the winner of Miss Rodeo America 1963. She lived in Las Vegas for a year and traveled the nation promoting rodeo. During this endeavor, she met many barrel racers and was able to watch them train and compete.
She met and was married to Rodeo Hall of Famer Barry Burk for seven years. This gave Joyce with the opportunity to meet many of the best horsemen of that time. She watched them train and listened to their ideas.
She began to win roping and all-around titles at this time, but she was always looking for a good barrel horse. In 1969, Joyce bought War Leo Dude and with her in the saddle, he became a World Champion barrel horse.
Joyce was married to NRHA Hall of Famer Bob Loomis for 23 years. She began training horses and discovered AQHA shows. She found another gelding Man O War Leo and he won the AQHA World Champion Sr. Barrel Horse at the first World Show held in Kentucky.
Her dream of training horses had become a reality.
State Championships came her way every year. She trained both adult and youth champions and this brought the opportunity to teach clinics all over the world. She helped found the Barrel Futurities of America and began writing magazine articles for both the U.S. and other countries.
Joyce says one of her greatest experiences has been assisting in establishing Cowboy Church services at both the AQHYA World Show and the AQHA World Show.
She has been married to George Kernek for 14 years. She has spent six months in Brazil working and giving clinics. In 2011 she was the first inductee to the Brazil Trainers Association Hall of Fame.
In 1999 she was asked to be the Dean of the Christian Horseman College in Benbrook, Texas. During this time, Dawson McAllister, the founder of the College, asked her to write a book about barrel racing and include the Gospel.
As a result of her many experiences, she was featured on the Animal Planet TV Network in November of 2009.
Joyce thought she had retired last year, but it didn’t take. She is still on the back of a horse and teaching.