Back in the 1930’s, Barrel Racing was a women’s rodeo event, and the rider’s outfit and horsemanship in maneuvering through barrels placed in a figure-eight or clover leaf pattern were elements judged, not so much speed.  Looking for more opportunities to compete in rodeo arenas, a group of cowgirls formed the GRA (Girl’s Rodeo Association) in 1948, and that started to change things –barrel racing became all about speed.  Today, the sport is open to girls, boys, men and women of all ages and levels of experience, including weekend riders and professionals.

Barrel racing contestants race against the clock running around three barrels in a pattern known as a “cloverleaf”.  Horse and rider are allowed a running start and may begin on the left or right barrel first, but the pattern cannot be broken (if a turn is incorrect, contestant is disqualified).  The race is timed to the hundredth of a second by an electronic eye stop-watch.  Touching a barrel is permitted;  however, knocking over a barrel results in a five second penalty.  A fast run is less than 14 seconds.

Barrel race divisions classify horse and rider teams, determined by the speed a horse runs the cloverleaf barrel pattern, and are designated as 1D, 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D and 6D.  1D class barrel races are run by horses and riders with the fastest times, with every other class set at five seconds slower.  6D, however, is reserved for horses and riders that run the course more slowly and/or young horses schooling.

It might look easy enough, but barrel racing is actually a challenging rodeo event and exciting to watch as the winner is often determined by thousandths of a second.  Good team work between rider and horse is essential to success in barrel racing as well as the courage and commitment of both.  American Quarter Horses are typically favored in barrel racing events because of their sprinting ability and agility in turns, but American Paint Horses, Appaloosas, and Pintos are also popular mounts.


Take a look at the action here!  Live stream broadcast of Open 5D Barrel Racing at the 2018 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, February 12 – 14, 2018.

Programming Note:  Sometimes it happens — scheduling changes, breaks in competition, or technical interruptions in the live broadcast.  Please check back for live action updates, and take a look at the Live Stream Program Guide for more On2In2™ streaming info.


San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, February 8-25, 2018 (events, entertainment, and attractions)
International Barrel Racing Association 
Women’s Professional Rodeo Association 


The equestrian sport of cutting evolved from the special skills of 19th century cowboys and their horses working cattle ranches in the American WestMore horse/rider teamwork in perfect harmony.  It wouldn’t be a rodeo without a cutting horse event & we’ve got lots of it



Bull riding has historical roots back to the 16th century, and we remain fascinated today by this dangerous rodeo sport and inspired by the skill and courage of both the rider and bull.There’s some bull riding, too




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Feature photo is courtesy of Flickr user, Max Rae, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Posted by Zola Zeester

Zola is a playmaker, the On2In2™ recreation guru and primary source of inspiration for this article. Currently resides at Zeester Media HQ.

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