All About Barrel Racing

By Sarah Banks

What is barrel racing? How is it judged? Most of us have seen barrel racing on TV or at the rodeo, but many probably don’t actually know much about it.

Original Barrel Racing

When barrel racing first started, speed wasn’t the main factor. The overall score for each pair was based on their outfit and horsemanship, along with doing the pattern.

Courses used to include both the normal cloverleaf pattern we see today, along with a figure eight pattern.

It was originally an all women’s sport in the early 1900’s, while the men took part in other rodeo events such as roping and bull riding. It wasn’t until 1949 when barrel racing became completely focused on speed.cowgirl-419084_1920

Barrel Racing Today

Today, barrel racing is only judged by the time it takes to complete the pattern. This means that there is no subjective judging, and a winner can be chosen by a thousandth of a second. A horse’s speed can be affected by how the horse is feeling that day physically and mentally. The type of ground can also affect a rider’s time.

The time starts when horse and rider cross the designated starting line, and ends when they cross back over the finish line.


Barrel Racing Tid-Bits

The rider can decide if they want to start with the left or the right barrel. The first barrel that the team goes around is often known as the “money barrel” because it is a critical factor to the time. There are three barrels in total that the pair must make it around.

Barrel racing is all about great communication, making tight turns and gaining quick speed to get the fastest time.

Mostly women compete, but there are also many males who take part too.

Horses that are great barrel racers are well-trained, quick, and are calm on the road. They have to be good with traveling a lot as rodeos can mean spending a lot of time on the road.

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