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Speed Events

Learn more about the following speed events, especially barrel racing; how to train for them and improve your skills; and read news and stories from competitors who compete in speed events with Horse Illustrated. 

  • Barrel racing involves a horse speeding around barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. The fastest competitor who leaves all the barrels up is the winner.
  • Gymkhanas feature events with pattern races and timed games and is often featured at Pony Club events or through 4-H. It is sometimes called an O-Mok-See. In addition to racing barrels, events can include pole bending, keyhole race, keg race, ride and run, egg stomp, $1 bill race (aka, ride a buck), and sack race are often scheduled.
  • Pole bending involves a rider weaving in and out of poles set in a straight line.
  • Flag racing involves running a pattern created by markers placed in specific locations.

In Real Life: Young Rider Lenna Peterson is Rounding the Turn to Take on the Barrel Racing World

My name is Lenna Peterson, and I compete in barrel racing. I am from Watkins, Minn., and I am 9…

6 months ago

Barrel Racing Short Story: The Case of the Tipping Barrel

Enjoy this short story from Young Rider magazine involving barrel racing in which Emma’s perfect new horse brings out her riding…

6 months ago

Take the Reins: The Ins and Outs of 4 Common Types of Western Reins

Reins are the key to communicating with your horse from the saddle. Used to cue and control direction and speed,…

10 months ago

The Need for Speed: Improving Your Barrel Racing Runs

You’ve been running barrels for a while now: You know the pattern. Your turns are solid. Your seat is stable.…

11 months ago

Amberley Snyder: Walk, Ride, and Rodeo Star

Growing up, Amberley Snyder, star of a rodeo movie on Netflix, competed in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and…

12 months ago

2019 World Championship Appaloosa Show: Celebrating 30 Years in Fort Worth

The Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) hosted the 2019 World Championship Appaloosa Show at Will Rogers Memorial Center, where nearly 600…

2 years ago

Brandon Cullins and Edwin Cameron Take Top Titles at the 2019 NBHA World Championships

Barrel racers from around the world gathered on October 26–November 2 for the 2019 NBHA Open and Senior World Championships…

2 years ago

Paint Horse Exhibitors Walk Away with More Than $1 Million in Cash and Prizes at 2019 APHA World Show

American Paint Horse exhibitors pocketed a record $1 million-plus in cash and prizes at the 2019 American Paint Horse Association…

2 years ago

Cowboy Swagger Named 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion With Fallon Taylor

Champion barrel racer Fallon Taylor takes on a new challenge every year: in 2018, she took up show jumping. This…

2 years ago

Two Barrel Racing Exercises

If you have a finished horse that doesn’t need a lot of work on the barrel pattern, the last thing…

2 years ago