BARREL RACING 101
Barrel racing has no judges, which means the event has no subjective points. It’s all about time. And time is the determining factor.
Barrel racing is graceful and simplistic: one woman, three barrels, a horse and the ever-present stopwatch. And electronic timed eyes. It’s the speed of the horse and rider as quickly as possible around a cloverleaf course of three barrels. At the end of the performance, after all of the racers have finished their runs, the clock is the one and only judges.
Ride fast and win. Hesitate and lose.
Not only have the best of the sport spend hours practicing and working on their skill, but they also have invested many dollars in the purchase and maintenance of the talented horses they ride. A proven barrel racing horse can cost $70,000 for the professional barrel racer, this is indeed a small price to pay.
Not only must the horse be swift, but it also must be intelligent enough to avoid tipping the barrels, an infraction that adds five second penalty and kills any chance for win.
The horse also must be able to withstand the long hours on roads a cowgirl must travel to reach the next rodeo. If a horse is fast, competitive and reacts calmly to the demands of travel, chances are good that horse can stop the clock as quickly as the horse in the next trailer.
PCB TOUR CHICAGO
Because so many barrel racers have finely tuned their skill, the sport is timed to the hundredth of a second. When the racer enters the arena, an electronic eye starts the clock. The clock is stopped the instant the horse completes the pattern.
Barrel racing at its core has changed little from the days when cowgirls raced for minimal, if any, prize money and support.
And though the prizes and exposure are greater now than ever, the ultimate goal remains for great satisfaction of winning!