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Discovering the

Fun sport of

Barrel Racing

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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.
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.

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