Meet Karl Kinsel

’09’s Genuine Cowboy

_Karl&Ashlee-Kinsel-9Come each blustery February, all thoughts inevitably turn toward ridin’, ropin’, wranglin’ and wrestlin’ as the eagerly awaited annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo canters into town. Pointed-toe boots get dusted off, like-new Stetsons are steamed and creased, blue jeans receive a starchy pressing, and even drawls become a little more pronounced as the vast majority of us happily swing into a “once-a-year” Western mode. Yee ha!

For one of our neighbors, however, it’s not just a seasonal affectation but what this accomplished individual truly is all of the time – a genuine cowboy. Meet ‘09’s Karl Kinsel, a man who has spent a long, productive, rough-and-tumble lifetime on spirited horseback, profitably raising and working cattle, successfully competing in national and international rodeos and generally living up to expectations as to what a “true-blooded Texan ” is supposed to be. And, pardner, that’s no bull.

Born near and raised on the fifth-generation ranch owned and operated by the Kinsel family south of San Antonio in Cotulla, Karl grew up in the physically demanding world that is still the cattle business. He, his father and brother, as he recalls, “spent more time astride a horse than walking.” His early life, outside of the traditional schoolroom, centered on learning how to handle wily and often uncooperative cows, calves, steers and bulls while usually in the saddle and/or swinging a rope. With practice, the youngster soon became adept at all aspects of moving, marking, containing, doctoring and subduing the large herds the family so ably managed then and now. And a very natural outgrowth of all this bovine activity was his inevitable involvement with rodeos._Kinsel-Edited-1-large

All across Texas, small communities like Cotulla regularly held highly- competitive “ranch rodeos,” where teams from the various properties met and tested their skills against each other in a series of fast-paced, timed events. Two-man roping, barrel racing, throwing and tying, even bull riding were hotly contested with the winners receiving kudos, commemorative Western belt buckles and maybe even a little cash. Karl, during his teen years and later, participated in many of these throughout South Texas and even within Northern Mexico. As a testament to his substantial mounted abilities, a number of times he received the rodeo’s MVP designation, which meant garnering the highly coveted “all-around cowboy” belt buckle. Many of these prized trophies now adorn one wall within his 78209 home. That early success eventually led to a full rodeo scholarship at Texas Tech University, where he continued to compete and excel on the broader collegiate level.

After graduation, Karl toyed with the idea of turning pro, but soon realized that while it might be exciting, with the constant cross-country travel required, not to mention the broken bones and sore muscles, full-time rodeoing was no life for him. Armed with a Tech business degree, he opted for a more sedate and successful career involved in South Texas land appraisal and oil and gas industry support.
During this time, however, Karl always remained very much involved with the family ranch operations and occasionally even entered a local rodeo or two. When queried about his last appearance as a contestant, though, an unregretful Karl admits, “I rode my final bull 20 years ago. I think I’ll leave that activity to the younger, faster-healing guys.”

3rodeoMost recently, Karl, an avid hunter as well as a rancher, was tapped to head the Texas Deer Association, a post he held for the past 15 years. Under his leadership, the association grew from its initial San Antonio-area focus to include the entire state. A great deal of beneficial legislation protecting private landowners has been enacted through his and the association’s worthwhile efforts. He is also currently on the board of the Texas Wildlife Association.

So how did this Cotulla cowpoke end up in ’09? Karl attended Texas Military Institute as a boarder from the eighth grade through the 12th. Making many friends within the ZIP (TMI was then located on its old campus at the end of College Boulevard), as he states, “Alamo Heights was like my second home. Settling here, for business and personal reasons, just made a lot of sense.”
Today, he, his wife, Ashlee (a soon-to-be-published novelist), and three children happily reside in the Quarry area, but as the lauded bull rider readily concedes, “I’m never too far away from the ranch, and that’s just the way I like it.” Spoken like a genuine cowboy, Karl, and that’s still no bull.

By Ernie Altgelt
Photography by Elizabeth Warburton

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