Barrel Racing's for Girls
Barrel racing is a timed rodeo event. The horse and rider go to complete a full pattern around preset barrels. Yep, I at the collegiate and professional rank, racing barrels is primarily a women's rodeo event. It combines the horse's athletic ability and the horsemanship skills of the rider to maneuver (at a crazy fast speed) the horse through the clover leaf pattern of the fifty-five gallon barrels in the middle of the arena.
In Barrel Racing the purpose is to make a run as fast as possible. The times are measured either by an electric eye, a device using a laser system to record times, or by a judge who raises a flag to let the clock(er) know when to hit the timer. You'll see the Judges and Clockers at the smaller or non-professional and more local rodeos.
Time starts when horse and rider cross the start line, and ends when the barrel pattern has been successfully executed and horse and rider cross the finish line. The rider's time depends on several factors, most commonly the horse's physical and mental condition, the rider's horsemanship abilities, and the type of ground or footing of the dirt in the arena.
Exact-o-mundo control is required to win one these. Running past a barrel and off pattern results in a ‘no time’ score, followed by a fun little disqualification. DQ! If either racer or horse hit a barrel and knock it over, there is a time penalty, typically five seconds - you can kiss your win good bye at + five seconds.
A real deal, high caliber barrel horse isn't cheap. It depends on the makeup of the horse of course (except for Mr. Ed!), and while breeding obviously plays a huge role in the price, so do athleticism, intelligence, drive and attitude too.
Barrel races begin with the horse and rider entering the arena at top speed, through the center entrance(or alley if in a rodeo arena). Once in the arena, the electronic timer beam is crossed, or broken, and begins to keep time.
The racer enters the arena at top speed, and once in the arena and the timer beam is crossed or broken, time begins! The approach to the first barrel is critical for success; the rider has to rate their horse's speed at the right moment to hit a correct path and make a perfect turn. When the horse sets up to take the turn, the rider's also got to be in position, which means sitting deep in the saddle with one hand on the horn and the other guiding the horse through the turn. The rider's legs will be held close to the horse's side, with the inside leg being held secure along the girth to support the horse's rib cage and give it a solid focal point for the turn. The athleticism required for this stuff is no joke - peak physical fitness.
After entering the laneof the barrel two, which is across the area, means the barrel racer has to go around this one in the opposite direction, with the same procedure but now opposite limbs. Once through the turn, they are aiming for the third barrel and final turn, in the same direction as the second barrel was taken. Once clear of the it, she’ll be ‘heading for home’ back to the timer. It’s fast. Awesome to see.
The fastest time will win.