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Everything You Need to Know About NFR Barrel Racing

NFR Barrel Racing

Barrel racing is one of the main events in the rodeo. But what is barrel racing all about? If you don’t know what this event is all about, I am happy to say that you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I am going to give you tips on what barrel racing is and what it entails. So if you are a rodeo fanatic, sit tight as we explore this rather unusual but pretty epic rodeo event. Please take a look at what I have rounded up for you. It’s all About NFR barrel racing!

What is the NFR Barrel Racing?

Barrel racing is one of the major rodeo events. In this type of event, a horse and its rider will attempt to run through a cloverleaf pattern. The pattern is usually made around specific numbers of preset barrels. Every participant will make the cloverleaf run, and the one who hits the fastest time wins. It is that simple.

Origin of Barrel Racing

The barrel racing event was originally developed for women, which is quite what still happens at the main event today. The event is believed to have been first held in Texas during the time when the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) was founded in 1948.

In the early days when this event was developed, the pattern often alternated between the figure-eight and then the cloverleaf pattern. Eventually, the figure-eight was dropped, and the much more difficult cloverleaf pattern retained.

Who Can Participate?

Well, both sexes will compete at the amateur and also the youth levels. However, in the collegiate and even around the professional ranks, it is a rodeo event that’s purely reserved for the women. The best thing about this event is this. Barrel racing combines the athletic ability of the horse and also the horsemanship skills of its rider to maneuver around the three barrels without any injuries successfully.

These three barrels that are used for barrel racing in the NFR rodeo competition are often placed in a tight triangle pattern.

How is the Winner Decided?

The person who takes up the barrel course within the fastest time wins. The times will be measured using a laser system electric device called the electric eye. Even so, during the armature event, the times are tested by a judge who will drop a flag to alert the timer on when to start or to stop the clock.

The clock starts when the participant (horse and rider) crosses the starting line and ends when they have successfully executed the barrel pattern.

Barrel Racing Rules: What You Should Know

There are several rules that are implemented in both armature and professional barrel racing events. They include the following.

  • The fastest time wins.
  • Running past a barrel or off the main pattern is void.
  • If you or your horse hits or knocks over a barrel, there will be a 5 seconds penalty.
  • Sixty-second is the time limit for completion of the course.
  • You don’t start the run from the off-center alleyway.
  • The arena is harrowed after every twelve contestants run.

Who Founded Barrel Racing

The first barrel racing event was held under the supervision of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) that was founded in 1948. During this time, the association was still called the Girls Rodeo Association.

It had 74 members and only 60 approved gaming tour events. The GRA finally changed its name to the WPRA around 1981 and has since maintained it until today.


Barrel racing is one of the most sought-after events, especially for the women rodeo category. Usually, the barrels used must be fifty-five gallons. They should also be metal and will be enclosed from both ends. The barrel should also be of at least two colors.

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