Over the years I have noticed a situation that develops much to
often. That is the Here is a sport for everyone. This activity offers
to its enthusiasts the relaxation of the outdoors coupled with the
excitement of speed and the unparallel connection with an animal
many times larger, stronger, and faster than the individual mounted
on top. The only judge involved is the clock. You wont find any
style preferences, attitude, or subjective opinions here. Either
you have the fastest time or you don't.
Barrel racing has been around for years. It has been a game event
in numerous competitions for decades where men, women, and children
have enjoyed displaying their expertise at top speed for all to
see. Most often the first exposure to it comes from watching the
Rodeos. The cowboys introduced barrel racing into their list of
events so their wives and girlfriends would have something to compete
in at the Rodeos. However, throughout the rest of the world it is
open to and participated in by all.
The race is relatively simple at first glance. It consists of three
barrels placed at specified distances in an arena in a triangular
pattern, referred to as a cloverleaf pattern. Different associations
have their own recommended distances. A general guideline would
be ninety feet from the first to second barrel and ninety feet to
the third. These distances vary anywhere from sixty to one hundred
and five feet. However, once set, it remains the same for all competitors
in that race. The competitor enters the arena at one end and proceeds
at top speed around the first barrel and then proceeds across the
arena to the second, which must be turned in the opposite direction
from the first. Next they proceed down the arena to the third barrel,
which must be turned in the same direction as the second barrel.
Then it's down the centerline at breakneck speed across the finish
line. That's it, fastest time wins.
I have been teaching riding and barrel racing for years and have
noticed a dramatic increase in the number of individuals wanting
to learn to barrel race. They don't say " I want to learn to ride",
instead what I am hearing is "I want to barrel race". Of course
like the saying goes, that is really putting the cart before the
horse. I normally don't have any problem resolving the situation.
Usually the horse explains it rather quickly, and much better than
I could. After that they understand just why they need to learn
to ride and control the horse before asking for speed. Then there
are those who have been riding for some time and desire something
different or more challenging. For these riders things move along
much more quickly. They already have the basics and simply need
the technical aspects. However, even for some of those with experience
it takes some getting used to for the speed. Once that is accomplished,
there off and running.
Barrel racing is a wonderful activity for anyone who enjoys being
outdoors, excitement, an adrenalin rush, and the chance to really
communicate with horses. When you travel at top speed your communication
skills need to be on time and accurate. This is one sport that seems
to hold the interest of entire families. Even the teenagers stay
with it. That could be due to the fact that most of the time you
win cash and not ribbons.
If you think that your ready for a little excitement, don't hesitate,
give it a try. Don't be put off by the idea of competing or even
the speed. Many of my students don't go out and start competing
right away. Some never want to compete. They simply want to enjoy
having the ability to do it and the opportunity to give it a try.
Most of all they are thrilled to be able to do something so completely
different from anything they have ever done before. Barrel racing
provides them that fulfillment and excitement, and I feel certain
that it will do the same for you if you let it.
About the Author
Bill Dunigan has been teaching
and competing in excess of 40 years. He has taught and competed in
Barrel Racing, Hunter/Jumper, Eventing, Dressage and served as President
of a local Dressage Association. During this time, he Fox Hunted four
days a week with two different Hunt clubs, one of which he served
as Joint Master. Bill qualified six years in a row for the World Championships
with the National Barrel Horse Association. http://www.barrelracingclinic.com/