Events: Barrel Racing
This photo shows a barrel racer turning the 2nd  barrel

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 barrel.

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.

Watch 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:

Women's Professional Rodeo Association
National Barrel Horse Association
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.


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