How to Barrel Race?

The concept of how to  barrel race is quite simple. 

Three barrels placed are Barrel Racing Pattern to the Righton the points of a triangle shaped course with a straightway run to finish line .  

The most common description is a cloverleaf shaped pattern.   The horse is asked to run as fast as possible to finish faster than the other competitors.

At the timer line there is an infra red timer that starts the timer and once the horse and rider have finished pattern they cross through the timer line to stop the clock to determine their time. The timer times in most cases times the barrel racers to a thousandth of second. Meaning if barrel racer runs a time of 17.230 and another runs a 17.130 that the 17.130 runs the faster time.

Most barrel racers run their pattern to the right; however, some barrel racers run their horses to the left. Barrel Racing pattern leftConsidering that the barrels throughout the race stay in the same place running to the right or to the left really doesn’t matter distance wise.  It is basically up to the rider in which clover leaf barrel racing pattern — right or left they would like to run.

How to barrel race? Clean Runs & No Knocking

Now the pattern has to be clean. Meaning that the horse and rider can not knock any barrels down or go what is called “off the pattern”.  An example of off pattern would be running around barrel 1 and 2 and not going around barrel 3 but instead running across the timer line. An off pattern would result in a “no time”.

Now knocking a barrel in a club events such as National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) you are not awarded a time or the barrel run is considered to be a “no time ” ; however, in most Rodeo events each barrel that is knocked completely down results in an addition of 5 seconds to your finish time. 

So, the goal of learning how to barrel race is to have a nice clean run that is on the pattern and to not knock any of the barrels down to be awarded a time.  Check out our blog if you would like to learn more about the sport of barrel racing.

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