About Barrel Racing

Split-Second Decisions
Poetry in Motion

That's Barrel Racing!

In a sport where the winner can be determined by thousandths of a second, the relationship between the rider and horse is crucial. The horse’s athleticism and mental condition and the rider’s horsemanship skills are tested as they maneuver through a clover leaf pattern at top speed.  

The course consists of barrels placed in a triangle in the middle of an arena. The rider races into the arena with the timer starting when the team crosses the start line, and ends after completing the clover leaf pattern and racing to cross the finish line. The team that puts up the best time with tight turns, explosiveness, communication and no overturned barrels wins.

The History of Barrel Racing

Originally, Barrel Racing was a women’s event and alternated between a figure-eight and clover leaf pattern. In the early 1930’s speed was not as much of a factor in the results as the rider’s outfit and horsemanship as demonstrated by maneuvering through the designated pattern. This was an event for women, while the men participated in the athletic rodeo events like roping and bull or bronco riding. By 1948 a group of women formed the GRA (Girl’s Rodeo Association) and in 1949 Barrel Racing became all about speed.

Barrel Racing Today

While barrel racing was initially developed for cowgirls, modern barrel racing is open to girls, boys, men and women of all ages and levels of experience including weekend riders and professionals with payouts and awards packages surpassing $250,000 through the IBRA.