Barrel racing is an event in which three barrels are set up and run in
a clover leaf pattern. The horse and rider with the fastest time will
win. Depending on the rules of each particular event, a rider will either
receive a five-second penalty for each barrel knocked over, or a 'no time'
in which case the rider will not get a time at all and cannot win or place.
Barrel racing is a common rodeo event, in which only women compete. However,
there are barrel racing associations that allow men to compete as well.
The times that a barrel racer will run will depend on the size of the
barrel pattern as well as the condition of the arena. A horse running
in sand or mud, for example is likely to be slower than a horse running
on a harder surface. A good time ranges from around 12 to 20 seconds,
depending on the size of the pattern and condition of the arena.
Regardless of the pattern size, most associations require that there be
a minimum of fifteen feet between the fence and the first and second barrels
and a minimum of 30 feet between the fence and the third barrel.
Diagram shows the barrel pattern: Most riders will turn the right
barrel first, then the left, then the last. However, it is also permissible
to run the pattern the other way, turning the left, then right, then last
Some barrel races
are run in a 1D or "open" format (most common in rodeos). In
such an event, the fastest few horses only win. Other barrel races are
put on in 4D formats. The fastest few horses still win, but in addition
to that other horses further down can place in different time categories.
The fastest horse
will the the 1D winner, and the horse that runs 1/2 a second slower will
be the 2D winner. 3D and 4D are usually consecutive half-second splits
too (although some events may do 1 second splits). Such a format allows
horses and riders to compete at different levels.
a video clip of a barrel race! This is a video clip of Caterina
riding Teko. The pattern is smaller than standard, and her time
was 16.53, which placed 2nd in the 1D.
Some popular barrel racing associations include:
American West 4-D
Photo of Sheri Cervi, NFR qualifier, and her horse Hawk, I believe. I
took this barrel racing photo at a rodeo in Arizona.
Another photo of Cervi, same barrel
race as above.
This barrel racing photo shows the horse and rider approaching the first
barrel. Photo I took in a rodeo in Cheney, Washington.
I took this barrel racing photo
at a rodeo in Tuscon, Az.