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The Art of Barrel Racing

July 29, 2016
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Barrel racing, also nicknamed barrels, is a popular rodeo event in the United States and Canada. The event mainly features women riding horses while young men and older cowboys ride bulls and broncs. Barrel racing is a simple concept in theory but challenging in execution. A cloverleaf or figure-eight pattern with three barrels is set in the arena.


How to play

A participant must ride her horse through the pattern without knocking over the barrels. A race is termed a success if the player and the horse come out uninjured. If the team finishes the race and all the three barrels are left standing, it is even a bigger success. The greatest accomplishment that attracts the biggest reward is completing the race uninjured, using the least time and leaving the arena with all three barrels standing.


Training to win the race

A competitor must train her horse adequately before the day of the competition. The most basic skill in barrel racing is turning correctly. The horse is first trained to anticipate turning points. The next step is introducing the pattern. There are many techniques used to train the horse using a pattern. A competitor must ensure that the horse learns how to slow down as it approaches a barrel to avoid knocking it while turning.


What to do before entering the arena

Once a participating team arrives at the show, the rider must tack up the horse. She should check the following before entering the arena:


– That the splint and overreach are worn

– The saddle is tightened, and

– Buckles and clips are checked

Warm up is essential in preventing injuries and includes trotting, cantering, and stretching/flexing.


In the arena

The announcer calls out the names of the competitors each at a time. When a name is called, the participant rides her horse to the entry ready to start the race. A participant can choose to start at either end of the pattern and finish at the other. Rules of barrel racing don’t specify which side to start.

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