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 get started?"

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 wholesome activity.

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 experiences.

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!

Send mail to joycekernek@windstream.net with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2004 - 2011 Joyce Loomis-Kernek
Last modified: January 05, 2014