Getting started in the Sport of Barrel Racing
Opportunities for success are endless in this
fast growing sport
By Joyce Loomis-Kernek
It is an exciting time in the world of barrel racing!
The National Finals Rodeo just had equal prize money for
barrel racers for the first time in history. Futurity money has surpassed
anyoneís wildest imagination, and entries are on the increase in every
aspect of our sport.
Barrel racing is truly growing all over the world. I am
getting calls on a regular basis from folks wanting to know... "How do we
Something for Everyone
You probably already know, barrel racing has something to
offer every age group. Itís a great way to involve your entire family in a
Many organizations have newsletters and publications that will
give you listings of show dates all over the United States. They also have a
lot of other information to help you get started. In the box are a few helpful
numbers for you. It is by no means a complete list, but it will give you an
idea of some of the organizations out there if youíre new to the world of
barrel racing. There are multiple associations on the state and local level
that put on jackpots and crown season champions. Your opportunities for
success are endless.
If you are a beginner, you will want to find the races that
offer divisions for novice riders. You will want to start off competing with
others at your level of skills. Itís more fun than running against the pros
and itís a great way to get experience.
Find a Qualified Instructor
The next step is to find a trustworthy, qualified instructor
to help you get started out right with the horse, tack, etc., that you will
need. Books, magazines like Americaís Barrel Racer, and other barrel
racers can help you locate good teachers and trainers.
You will need a horse to match your riding skills. The less
experienced you are, the more experienced your horse needs to be. For someone
who has never run barrels, I like to find them what I call a
"packer." You will hold on and this horse packs you through the
pattern; whether you are trotting or running, this horse will get you to the
right spot and turn.
For children who have never ridden, it is so important to get
them started with a pony or a small horse that will build their confidence. A
common mistake I see is parents thinking they will buy a young horse and let
their child grow up with it. I caution parents to not put a young,
inexperienced rider on a young, inexperienced horse. It can lead to problems
and often to injuries.
You Can Learn from the Right Horse
For someone who has ridden some in another discipline, or just
for enjoyment, I like to see them start on a horse that is experienced as
well. The reason for this is, the right horse can teach the barrel racer so
much. The wrong horse can also teach as well, but many times it will be in the
negative realm. The students that I work with who have had a start that gave
them confidence in their abilities advance faster than those who had bad
Be sure to find an instructor or trainer who can take you from
where you are today and advance you, no matter what your past experience is,
to where you want to be as a competitor. There are videos, clinics and
symposium-conferences available all over the country to help you get started.
Only you can decide how much time, effort and money you want
to put into barrel racing. Your commitment level will determine how far
youíll go. Remember, whether you aspire to serious competition with a
championship goal or just to enjoy it as a hobby, barrel racing can be very
rewarding and fun!