History of Barrel Racing
Barrel racing is a timed rodeo event where competitors complete a clover leaf pattern around 3 barrels.
The horse and rider must communicate well and combine the horse’s athletic ability and the rider’s horsemanship.
The Barrel Race:
The timer starts as the horse and rider cross the starting line. The timer stops when the pattern has been completed and you cross the finish line.
Completing the pattern incorrectly results in disqualification and knocking over a barrel results in a 5 second time penaly.
This usually makes your time too slow to be a winning contender.
Original Barrel Racing
Barrel racing was first developed as a women’s rodeo event. While the men participated in rodeo events like roping and riding broncos, the women participated in barrel racing.
In the beginning, these races would alternate between a figure-eight pattern and a clover leaf pattern. However, the figure-eight pattern was eventually dropped in favour of the more difficult clover shape.
Although there are no official records on when and where it commenced, it is believed that the event first became popular in Texas.
The New Barrel Racing
Although the basic rules haven’t changed much over the years, the competition has.
Whilst it was initially developed as a sport for cowgirls rather than cowboys, it is now open to anyone to compete in. You will see it run all over the world, not just rodeos.
It is often seen at horse shows, gymkhanas & pony clubs with participants of all ages and genders competing.
The modern day barrel racing team is no different to the original one though, they need to be fast, agile and in sync with each other in order to win.
Health concerns with barrel racing horses
Studies have shown that up to 80% of performance horses are likely to suffer from equine ulcers.
Strenuous exercise, stress, travel and diet are the biggest risk factors for horses to develop ulcers. Unfortunately when preparing barrel racing horses for competition, they’re exposed to these risks.
You can identify equine ulcer symptoms here.
Horses who are fed on high grain/low roughage diets are more prone to ulcers. Lowering the grain intake, increasing the roughage and allowing your horse to graze freely more often will assist in ulcer prevention.
Another cause behind ulcer development is exposure to stress. Stress comes in many forms, but specific to barrel racing horses can include training, transport and competition.
Rather than eradicating theses things from your horses life, we suggest considering ways to lessen the stress on your horse.
For example, it’s a good idea to plan for any long distance travel. Breaking up the trip as much as you can or travelling with a companion for your horse will ease this stress.
Surrounding your horse with the familiar at competitions and events can also provide a more relaxing experience for them. Furthermore, treating your horse with sucralfate for lengthy travel sessions will stop ulcers from forming.