So You Want to Be a Professional Barrel Racer?

So You Wanna Be a Pro Barrel Racer?

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Is one of YOUR goals to barrel race successfully on a professional level, either this year or beyond?

If so, consider the following information we’ve brought to you on being a member of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association as the first of many doors opening to make those dreams a reality!

As stated on the WPRA web site,

“The competition is tough and the standards are high but the WPRA is the finest women’s sports organization in the world.”

Not only the finest, the WPRA is also the oldest women’s sports organization, having been formed in 1948 when thirty-eight cowgirls got together in San Angelo in the name of promotion and advancement of women in rodeo.

Although the WPRA co-sanctions barrel racing events outside of pro rodeos, has a roping division, and holds their own world finals rodeo in October, most of the members of the WPRA are barrel racers interested in competing in barrel racing held at PRCA rodeos.

Anyone interested in competing in barrel racing at PRCA rodeos must start their WPRA membership as a permit holder. The cost of a permit is $300 annually and requires the completion of a membership application. Once $1000 has been won in WPRA competition, members are eligible to purchase their WPRA card for $375.

To make sure these numbers are accurate, you’ll want to click here for current membership information.

Some benefits to becoming a card holder include the opportunity to qualify for Circuit Finals or the National Finals Rodeo and the ability to vote and hold office in the WPRA. Card holders are also given priority over permit holders when drawn for positions at pro rodeos, and some rodeos do not accept permit holders.

To enter the barrel race at a PRCA rodeo, WPRA members must call PROCOM, the PRCA’s computerized entry system. A member is asked for their preference, which is the day or time they prefer to compete in the rodeo. A slack performance is sometimes held before or after the rodeo, which is when the extra barrel racers that time did not allow for in the actual rodeo performances make their run.

A WPRA member’s individual preferences may be based on travel plans, the timing of other rodeos, or even a horse’s preferences (they may run better in slack vs. a performance for example). To make the entry process as fair as possible, a computerized random numbering system determines the draw positions.

The cost to enter the WPRA barrel racing at a PRCA rodeo can vary from under $100 on the lower end to over $400 on the higher end, and is often dependent on the amount of added money available to win at each rodeo. Some WPRA barrel races at PRCA rodeos are paid out based on one go round, while other rodeos have multiple go rounds and also pay an average, while even others hold a finals or short go where only a certain number of the top barrel racers can advance. Money won for first place in a go round can vary from $1,000 on the lower end to $4,000 on the higher end. Comparable additional amounts are eligible to win at rodeos that pay an average.

On A Barrel Racing Mission
Are YOU on a Mission?

When it comes you entering, you should know that in WPRA terms, a “buddy” is someone you travel with and designate when entering in hopes of drawing an entry position in the same performance or slack.

Having a buddy is ideal, as the expenses that go along with traveling and competing can add up quickly. For example the cost in fuel alone to drive from the Sheridan WYO Rodeo in Sheridan, Wyoming to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs, CO in July may be over $200. When combined with entry fees and other vehicle and horse trailer maintenance expenses, horse feed, supplements, health care and maintenance, food and other travel expenses, utilization of “buddy system” becomes more necessity than option for many barrel racers.

Due to the expenses that come along with traveling and competing on a professional level, it makes sense to first pass some milestones in divisional barrel races before busting out on the pro circuit. Once a horse and rider are consistently placing in the 1D/2D at big divisional races, it’s a good time to ease into pro level competition by first entering some local amateur rodeos or non-pro rodeo WPRA sanctioned barrel races. Success in those environments will help determine when a horse & rider team is ready to transition into pro-level competition.

To showcase the talent of cowboys and cowgirls who prefer to stick closer to home, the WPRA and PRCA has a circuit system established which divides the US into 12 geographical regions. At the end of each rodeo season, each circuit holds a finals where the top barrel racers are invited to compete.

Here’s a map of Barrel Racing World Champion, Callie duPerier’s travels in 2015:

Along with a WPRA membership comes a subscription to the Women’s Pro Rodeo News which is published twice a month and contains essential entry information. Members also receive a WPRA decal and copy of the current Rule Book. All active members are even provided with insurance that covers them against accidents at the rodeo or while traveling, but does not include horses.

In addition to the time commitment of training and maintaining a winning horse, barrel racers must also develop the skills to succeed on the entry side of pro rodeo. An option popular among professional barrel racers is hiring a professional to take care of entering. There are many parameters surrounding the entry process and WPRA members are always encouraged to read their rule book or contact their regional director with any questions.

If you’ve made it this far, you should also know that the WPRA dress code requires long sleeved, collared, button or snap up shirts and jeans without holes, western boots and cowboy hat. Just a little something to consider if you intend to be one of those beautiful blinged-out horse and rider teams racing down the alley at pro rodeos across the US!

“The WPRA . . . the past, present, and future of women in rodeo!”

For current details on WPRA membership, visit their web site and be sure to tune into Women’s Pro Rodeo Today on RFD-TV for exciting professional barrel racing action, Q&A with Veterinarians, training tips, interviews and bios with today’s top barrel racers. Click here for a schedule.

For even more resources on the topic of “going pro” click here to browse the NFR Barrel Racing content category or follow the links below:

103 replies
  1. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    Hi Heather,

    Could you please help me? I have recently switched to feeding my horses Total Equine over the last 3 months, but it costs me over $100 for just 4 bags of feed which is definitely not an economical way to go when feeding 4 performance horses over 4 lbs each per day. Could you please tell me what the winning pros feed and what supplements they recommend? Thank you! Tanya Wilsall, MT

    Reply
  2. Sarah H
    Sarah H says:

    I am a younger rider (still entering in youth division) and my biggest dream is to become a pro barrel racer. It may sound silly at such a young age!haha 🙂 What should I be doing now and a little later to give me a boost into the beggining steps into professional rodeo. Also, I will be entering the highschool rodeo division soon and hopefully going toward a barrel racing scholorship to college. I would like to be an equine vet, and as we all know vets are there till very late at night and sometimes have emergency calls. Should I reconsider my career idea? Thanks for your tips in advance! I love your site and helpful info!!

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Sarah! Thanks for commenting and congrats for having such high level career aspirations! There are lots of ideas for you that will be helpful in preparing for a career as a pro barrel racers in the “Resources” section of my book, Secrets to Barrel Racing Success. Barrel racing professionally or being a Vet. are both careers that require a a ton of time and committment. I am a licensed Vet. Tech. and have spent quite a bit of time employed in Vet. clinics and at Veterinary Teaching Hospitals with actual Veterinary students. I think it would have been really challenging to do both. In fact one big reason I’m no longer a Vet. Tech. is because I felt as though I had to be “married” to my career and I had many other interests to pursue outside of that, and I would venture to say that Veterinarians typically invest much more time into their careers and carry much more responsibility than Vet. Techs (which is like an animal nurse). So although I’m not saying it would be impossible (where there is a will there is a way!), it would be a challenge. When it comes to careers, it’s helpful to consider something that pays well but allows flexibility, and of course you have to enjoy it too – lots of things to consider when it comes to balancing work that supports your barrel racing habit! 🙂 Hope that helps!

      Reply
  3. Ashlee
    Ashlee says:

    To whomever it may concern…

    Okay, so this may sound crazy, but I don’t own a horse, haven’t ever really been around rodeos or people who barrel race. But I have a passion for animals; especially horses. And it has always been a dream of mine to barrel race, and be more involved with the rodeo atmosphere! But the problem is, is that Im not really sure how to get started with this sort of thing. And everyone I ask, just doesnt know what I should do… So I was hoping you could help me with some questions that I have…
    1. What kind of horse is the best to get for barrel racing, and where is the best place to store them if you don’t have the property?
    2. Im 17, is it too late for me to start a career as a barrel racer?
    3. How long and how many days out of the week should I practice?
    4. Is there any beginner tips you can give to me?
    5. How do I get started, and where do I go to get a permit or whatever I need?…Or what is the best way to get started?
    6. Is there anything I need to look out for, prepare for, or start doing?
    7. Is it impossible to manage life, barrel racing, another job, and family?

    Sorry, I know its alot to ask info on, but Im just unsure how to find out correct information, and this is something that Im really passionate about and want to do! Anything helps! Thank you so, so much!!
    Sincerely, Ashlee.

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Ashlee, That is a lot of questions, but I’m happy to give you some quick answers that I think will get you started!
      1. Quarter Horse, check into local horse boarding facilities, for horse shopping check out barrelhorseworld.com or dreamhorse.com
      2. No, it’s never too late, but don’t expect to be an overnight success!
      3. MINIMUM 10 hours/week, riding 5 days/week? (the more time you spend on QUALITY learning/practice/training the better you will do – sooner)
      4. Check out Top 10 Barrel Racing Tips Countdown
      5. It would be best to start be entering local play days, jackpots, etc. to start getting experience, then move up to 4Ds, when you’re doing well there, amateur rodeos, and finally pro rodeos (no permit necessary until you get to the pro level although you may decide to join a barrel racing association that sanctions events in your area – try to contact barrel racers in your area for more info). The reason for the gradual climb is that it’s not likely that you’ll be competitive enough right off the bat to make entering pro rodeos feasible – entry fees are expensive, as is fuel.
      6. Ride, ride, ride, learn, learn, learn and get connected with a local, respectable barrel racer in your area to tag along with, take lessons from, etc. You might even offer to help her with chores, etc. in trade for learning more about barrel racing!
      7. It’s challenging at times but it’s a good idea to have some other source of income other than barrel racing, but it’s nearly impossible to barrel race professionally and work a full time job… you can ease into it by running on the weekends and eventually working less hours. Job flexibility is a big plus, as is a supportive husband/boyfriend! 🙂
      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  4. Aubrey
    Aubrey says:

    I am also in the same boat as Ashlee except I am 20 and will be graduating from college in April 2014. I played soccer my whole life but looking back i wish i chose barrel racing when i had the chance as a kid. I’m hoping its not too late to find a way into the rodeo world. I would love to hear the answers to her questions! Thank you!:)

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Aubrey,
      Any age is a good age to get into barrel racing! It’s never too late, in fact your maturity will really help you avoid making mistakes that younger people often make that turn into habits that are hard to break later.

      Reply
  5. Natasha
    Natasha says:

    Okay!

    I am 19 years old have been riding horses for 10 years and training them for 5. I’ve been barrel racing since I started riding (which sounds crazy but the minute I could run that’s all I wanted to do). I am finishing up my bachelor’s online and would like to start getting into pro barrel racing. I currently don’t have a barrel horse but have a place I could keep them if I could get ahold of a horse for inexpensive. What would you suggest I look into for price range of a horse?

    Also I live in Indiana, what rodeos are near enough that I can begin to see if we are ready for pro-circuit before taking the extra miles out on us?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Natasha,
      Getting to the pro level is something that typically takes some time. It’s really where “mastery” is reached, and according to some studies, it can take 10,000 hours of practice to get there! If you’re just getting started and really want to progress as quickly as you can, it would be a good idea to start with a very solid, well trained, consistent horse that is middle aged. You can expect to spend around $10,000 for a pretty nice horse. I don’t want to sound discouraging, but I also want to be realistic. You can surely get started on a much less expensive horse, but you may need to spend more time training them and yourself to be winners.
      I’m sure there are local jackpots and 4D barrel races in your area which is a good place to start. It would be great to connect with some local barrel racers to find out about the events in your area. Good luck and welcome to the wonderful world of barrel racing! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Bonnie Keen
    Bonnie Keen says:

    I am planning on this and have just started in local rodeos and divisional competition this year.

    My big question is should I have another barrel horse for backup at each event incase something were to happen like lameness,etc?

    Is this something I should make sure of before I even think of joining? I want to cover all my bases before I embark on the pro world. Please advise.
    Thanks and your info is very helpful for beginners who don’t have extended family involved in horses.

    Bonnie

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      If you’re just getting started, I would say that having a second horse is not really a necessity. It takes so much time and finances to really keep one horse going. So it really depends on that – your time and finances. Also, you might see how your first horse does, and depending on that and what your goals are, you might want the support of another horse to share the load. Believe it or not, my personal horse limit is TWO, my husband is a pro team roper and his limit is TWO horses – we love having a “quality over quantity” theme!

      Reply
  7. Lena
    Lena says:

    Hi I’m 23 years old my dream an goal is to be a pro barrel racer I started barrel racing in2013 my goal is to join a rodeo circuit next year is that to soon ? I have been going to 4 d barrel races I also have two toddlers is it impossible to be a pro barrel racer with two kids ??

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Lena,
      What will determine the timing in which you “go pro” will really be how competitive you are at open and amateur local races and rodeos. When you’re in the top of the 2D and 1D at a big open race, you’re ready to try your hand a professional rodeo! 😉
      There are plenty of pro barrel racers with children, most of all it requires a strong support team of people who support and believe in your goals as well and are ready and able to help out.
      All my best to you in the new year!

      Reply
  8. Bri
    Bri says:

    Hello!
    I am 19 and have been barrel racing most of my life. I win at jackpots in mostly the top of the 3D, sometimes the lower 2D with room to be faster if I let my horse go. When should I start entering wpra rodeos or barrel races? Should I wait until I am constantly winning the 1D? Some people have told me that ‘you have to start somewhere’ and to just enter the smaller rodeos so that I can get a feel for how they work and not waste money at the local backyard jackpots. What do you think?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Bri,
      Jackpots are a great place to gain confidence. I think at minimum you’ll want to be winning the 2D at big open races before you consider pro rodeo. You can always enter a few amateur rodeos for the experience, but if you’re not close to placing, it becomes something that costs too much money to do just for fun! But education always has an expense! 🙂 If you don’t have a great run or you’re not super competitive yet, you’ll have a greater opportunity to win back some of your expenses at the divisional races.

      Reply
  9. Sheila Vandevere
    Sheila Vandevere says:

    Hey there. So I understand most of the info above which points you in the direction of the NFR. Except one thing. So I plan to start out in close to home rodeos and nbha shows this year. But should I still buy my wpra card? And if I do/should buy my wpra card. Is the money and rodeos I compete at around home or these smaller rodeos, are they in connection with the final rodeos? I guess what I’m saying or asking is if I show at that these small rodeos and I do good. Does that put me in the running to go to the finnals. Or do I have to travel?

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Sheila,
      You’re wise to start out close to home by going to 4Ds and amateur rodeos. My recommendation would be to buy your WPRA card once you are placing at minimum in the top of the 2D at the BIG NBHA shows, and placing in amateur rodeos. Otherwise the competition is just so tough at pro rodeos, that you would most likely be donating your entry fees. You can always enter for the experience, but it can be so expensive that it doesn’t make sense for most of us do to it “for fun!” Lol Only money won at WPRA sanctioned/approved rodeos counts toward qualifying for the NFR, and doing so would require to you travel pretty extensively. To even get into some of the bigger rodeos you have to already be doing well at some smaller ones and have some money won. You can always find out more by visiting http://www.WPRA.com and contacting them with any questions. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  10. Gabby
    Gabby says:

    I’m 14 and own an awesome 11 year old QH. We just starting running a local barrel series, and my trainer wants me to start running NBHA. The thing is, my parents just don’t have the time to haul me around with work and all so I’m really dissapointed. I really wanna get far with this, and work with horses my whole life, but it seems like there’s so good start for me! My parents aren’t supportive, and I’m just lost on how to get up with the pros one day (long from now)… Any advice on where to start, what to start, and when? Thank you so much in advance

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Gabby,

      First off, I admire your determination! There are plenty of successful barrel racers that didn’t get started until later in life, but there’s no reason to allow the lack of support from your parents hold you back. At times, it will be hard to see how easy it may SEEM to others who do have that support, but in the end your success will all mean so much more to you because you’ll need to work extra hard. Also, remember that we ALL have different types of challenges – many that others don’t know anything about. I wasn’t exactly born into a rodeo family and my parents weren’t able to support me growing up either. I learned to be independent, work hard and pay my own way, and I really took care of and appreciated everything I had because of that (still do).

      My best recommendation is to spend time with other barrel racers who can take you under their wing. You might offer to exercise horses or clean stalls, etc. in exchange for lessons or a ride to the barrel races. There might be jobs you can get that pay more money, but to get the saddle time and horse experience in, it would be great to actually work for a respected pro level barrel racer.

      Just the other day I saw posted on Facebook that Cayla Melby, Jane Melby’s 15 year old daughter, went to the HUGE BFA futurity by herself and placed 14th in the first go round. Granted, she has support in a lot of ways, but she was able to train her horse, enter, then haul there, get ready and compete pretty much by herself while her Mom and family were at the NFR in Vegas, which I think is great.

      Most important going forward will be your mindset – don’t allow your situation to be an excuse to feel discouraged. Purposely LOOK for the positive things, instead of focusing on what isn’t working or isn’t possible, look for what IS possible! I can sense how bad you want it, with the right attitude and lots of hard work – you will go far!

      Reply
  11. Nickie
    Nickie says:

    Hello, I am 35 years old and would LOVE to be able to barrel race professionally. Lately I have been having thoughts that…. well… maybe I am to old to start this. I have rode horses all my life and have one heck of a barrel horse that I have been doing local shows with, nothing big or spectacular. I have some self confidence issues from being told by others I can’t do this. I now have a wonderful fiance’ who believes in me and wants me to hit the local play days and 4d runs hard this summer and start gaining points in IBRA to qualify for state. But the question remains…. am I to old to pick up my hopes and dreams again?

    Reply
    • Lynn
      Lynn says:

      Hello,

      Looks like I am not alone in my ambition to start racing barrels. I have limited riding experience from when I was younger, mostly in high school. I have been athletic my entire life and have raced bicycles,skis and road motorcycles for many years. I too am wondering if it is too late to race barrels. I am 50 and hope to make the pro rodeo if all goes well. Any tips for a middle age hopeful? Thanks for your time and great posts.

      Reply
  12. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Hello, I’m Tiffany and I wanna start barrel racing. I’m 15 years old and I was wondering if even though it’s a very late start on the sport if I can still have a chance becoming a pro barrel racer. It’s been my dream forever and my barrel lesson teacher said I’m learning very fast.

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Tiffany,

      It’s never too late to start barrel racing! The only place limitations like that exist is in our heads and if they do, they are more likely to become our reality.

      Consider yourself as having a huge advantage – if you are getting quality instruction from the very beginning (which most people don’t), then you are likely to progress much more quickly than most people.

      I have been out run by barrel racers who had been riding and competing a fraction of the time I have been, and it has A LOT to do with them establishing good habits from the beginning thanks to quality instruction.

      With that said, don’t get in too big of a hurry and be sure you focus on improving your general horsemanship. It’s more important in the beginning to be smooth and correct than it is to be fast. When you establish good, solid habits, the speed will come!

      Reply
  13. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Hi! Is it possible to become a professional without a horse? I haven’t been able to find an answer anywhere about this. For those not lucky enough to have the funds for ownership, I was wondering if it’s possible to get to the top on a leased horse or if it’s ever been done before. Thanks!

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Although it would be challenging to get started in barrel racing without your own horse, it’s not impossible.

      Many NFR barrel racers don’t actually own the horse they make the finals on, but of course they usually do own their own horses or have a history of that throughout their life, and they are typically responsible for all the care of the horses they are riding. The owner typically gets a percentage of their winnings or some kind of agreement is worked out between owner and rider.

      Everyone has to begin somewhere – leasing a horse, taking some lessons and making lots of contacts before you’re ready and able to dive into horse ownership is a good way to get started!

      Reply
  14. Nickie
    Nickie says:

    Hello, I am 35 years old and would LOVE to be able to barrel race professionally. Lately I have been having thoughts that…. well… maybe I am to old to start this. I have rode horses all my life and have one heck of a barrel horse that I have been doing local shows with, nothing big or spectacular. I have some self confidence issues from being told by others I can’t do this. I now have a wonderful fiance’ who believes in me and wants me to hit the local play days and 4d runs hard this summer and start gaining points in IBRA to qualify for state. But the question remains…. am I to old to pick up my hopes and dreams again?

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Nickie,

      You will not be too old to barrel race unless you believe you are! I am not sure where people get the idea that they are “too old,” but it’s largely BS! Lol

      Also, “no one can make you feel inferior without your content,” and “what other people think is none of your business!” 😀

      If you love barrel racing – go for it and don’t let anything stop you! It will be challenging but it will be worth it! I’ll be here cheering you on and continuing to provide helpful tips!

      Reply
  15. Cody Beyer
    Cody Beyer says:

    Hello i know it’s not the easiest path for someone of my gender but i have been barrel racing since i was six. I love the speed and the competition along with the greatest part, the team work with your horse. I was hoping you could help me do this professionally. I have the horses and the ability just not the right parts for lack of better words.

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Good for you Cody! I’m not sure what part of the country you’re from but in the southeast US there seems to be a lot more men barrel racers that are very successful. They mainly focus on barrel futurities (for horses that are 4 and 5 years old only) because men are allowed to enter these races. There is a lot of money to be won and not quite as much traveling with rodeoing. So if you enjoy working with younger horses, this would be something to shoot for!

      Reply
      • Cody Beyer
        Cody Beyer says:

        I’m from Michigan and I do like training young horses but i would like to be able to travel around, show off my horses, and leery my horses have a nice long career. I know I’m probably going for something that can’t happen but it is a goal. At the very least I’d like to be able to learn more and become better while also passing information along that has made me successful. I feel that is one of the most rewarding parts of our sport

        Reply
        • Chrissy
          Chrissy says:

          Cody, don’t forget about BBR (Better Barrel Races) Lots of events, a big finals, and no restriction on gender. Look them up, they have sanctioned events all over the country, so you can start small and not travel far, then work up to going to more/ bigger events.

          Reply
  16. Sarah Miller
    Sarah Miller says:

    Hiya! My name is Sarah and my ultimate dream is to become a Pro barrel racer. The only experience iv’e really had with barrel racing is watching it, and riding a few arabians that are definetly not barrel horses. The one I rode in my first rodeo was an arabian and he is an english horse… We got a 29… ugh it was not fun lol. Anywho, I am hopefully going to buy my first horse this summer, and I REALLY want a Quarter Horse & hae it registered with AQHA. I also have gone to one barrel clinic and it was again, an arabian but she ran barrels practically herself! It was really fun! I just have a few questions 🙂
    1:Im 13 and my only riding experience have been with horses 15 hands and under… Would you suggest me with a bigger horse (like at least 15+ hands)because I think they are alot better!

    2:Where is somewhere i can learn more about the cars & stuff you can get like the pro card. Like is there other cards you can get to work your way up to a pro card?

    3:Is there a trick on how to pull a barrel back up before tipping?

    4: If i get my horse this summer, do you suggest me to enter junior rodeos or should i get used to my horse and train for a year to wait for next summer?

    5: Where are some good places i can sell my tack cheap? (you dont have to answer this isnt much related to barrel racing lol) i already have tried craigslist and e-bay. I was just wondering if there were any other constantly visited places i could sell it! 🙂

    Thank you! ♥♥♥

    Reply
    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Sarah, welcome to the wonderful world of barrel racing! To answer your questions…
      1. An awesome barrel horse can be any size, there are LOTS of highly successful horses shorter than 15 hands.
      2. Here’s a link to details on WPRA membership – http://www.wpra.com/
      3. Setting a tipping barrel back up is a last resort and isn’t something that we typically try to learn or practice! Instead, focus more on not tipping barrels to begin with.
      4. My best advice is to find a respected professional that can help you and spend a lot of time learning to ride well and advancing your horsemanship before getting in a big hurry to enter rodeos. Start with local jackpots (open barrel races), and how well you do will determine the next step. When your starting out, don’t get too wrapped up on your time, focus more on smooth, correct runs and the speed will come.
      5. You might check out http://www.TackTrader.com.

      Hope that helps!

      Also, here’s another article you’ll enjoy – What it Takes to Make NFR Barrel Racing Dreams Come True

      Reply
  17. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    I have been training for barrel racing for about 6 months & I’m from Texas. I feel like I’m ready to start competing, have any associations or websites I can sign up in? I’m only 15, thank you for your help.

    Reply
  18. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Hi, I was wondering about the different times for the divisions. What makes the divisions different? What are the times the pros get for their run?

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Hi Sarah, the times all depend on the pattern size, which varies. As for divisions, you might do a Google search for “how does the 4D barrel racing divisional system work” and I bet you’ll find some detailed, in-depth explanations. Keep in mind that races can be 3D, 4D, 5D, etc. and that there are different “splits” (1/2 second, 1 second, etc.) between each D. I’m sure in your research it will become clear, the BarrelHorseWorld.com forums are another good place for posting questions!

      Reply
  19. joslynn
    joslynn says:

    I have bein interested in being a barrel racer since I was a bout 7 years old but I never knew what to do or how to enter and it’s still something I would love to do but have no idea were to start everything that I have found that involves horses are show jumbling dressage and that kind of stuff am interested in that to but I would enjoy barrel racing allot more I feel that it suits me Better
    Thank you, Joslynn
    Maryville, TN

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Your best bet is making some calls and getting connected with any local horse people in your area to see if they know some barrel racers. Then see if they would give you some insight into events in your area and where you could get some support and instruction for getting started!

      Reply
  20. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    Hello, just would like to address those who are asking if its too late to learn to barrel race. It’s definitely never too late! I didn’t start til I was 21. When I was the local rodeo queen I began really working towards training my horse for barrels. I figured I’m at the rodeos why not compete like I have always wanted too. At first I was always worried what others would think of me and my horse. Worried that they would judge me and they were intimidating. But you know what it doesn’t matter! If you want to do it do it! Later on I started taking lessons with a local trainer and she took my barrel racing to a whole new level! Hope that helps someone!

    Reply
  21. Liz
    Liz says:

    Hi,

    I have a few questions:
    1. How do you find quality instructors and how do you know it’s quality instruction?
    2. Is there a place where I can find all the upcoming races listed, such as the 4D races?
    3. How do you find the other barrel racers and horse people in your town to make connections when starting from pretty much a clean slate and knowing no one to begin with?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  22. lexie
    lexie says:

    im still a young rider. ive been riding for a while now and im leasing to own a horse named dixie. ive been riding her for about 3 months now and she is an irregular paint ( bald face, to back stocking and an itty bitty little spot on her side where the girth goes) but i know she has the right stuff to become a pro barrel horse. ive competed in a few rodeos with her and won all of them with a time of about 13.33 to 15.6 and every judge traner etc has told me we are a dynamic duo that they will be rooting for us in the NFR. I dont want to let them down and never go. Dixie is 6 y/o and is already on the youth bracket. but i wanna know what can i do to help her keep her times consistant without ruining something she loves to do.
    thanks
    lexie

    Reply
  23. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    Hey so I’m a little confuse on when does wpra season start? I know they start taking applications in October but doesn’t the season start after nfr in December? So if I buy my permit in October 2014 will my points/$ get transfer over to the new season or do I have to buy my permit again? I’ve talked to acouple racers who have there pros cards and they said I could join when ever I want but I would really like to buy my permit in the very beginning of the season to have a better chance of getting rookie of the year.

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Hi Natalie, technically the WPRA season (qualification time for the NFR) usually starts/ends in October. You’ll want to visit the WPRA web site or contact them for the details! 😉

      Reply
  24. Hayley
    Hayley says:

    Hi, I’m Hayley and I’m 16 years old. I absolutely love horses and I’ve been wanting to learn how to barrel race. Everyone that I know doesn’t know anything about it. My parents are super supportive about the idea. But they also don’t know anything about it either. Do I take classes? What kind of horse do I need?

    Reply
  25. Angela
    Angela says:

    Hi I’m writing a fictional book on some girls who go on a barrel circuit and I need some information on how barrel racing circuits are set up. I was wondering if you could answer some of my questions, or direct me to a place I could get them. I would be grateful.

    Reply
  26. Morgynne
    Morgynne says:

    I really need help training my horse to become a barrel horse! the only exception is that she is 22 years old, your probably thinking i need a much younger horse to train any ways could you help me? to train me and my horse to become a pro barrel racer ps. i am 11 years old 😉 help me! pps: you are so much help!

    Reply
  27. rebekah
    rebekah says:

    Hi. I have a daughter that is 12 and has been doing playdays for almost 3 years and local barrel show for a few months. Now the last year she is top in her age group and has over half a dozon high points. (Proud mom). The horse she has been using for a year is 6 and is half paint/half arab, on the short stocky side. Runs clean every time. My question is will this horse be good for her to use until 18 for what she wants or should I get a full QH or paint. Right now horse is running 16.5 barrels and 26 secs poles. Honestly I dont think my daughters has had her as fit as the horse should/could be. I really dont want her to wast her time if this horse wouldnt work to carry her through junior rodeo, WHASET. But I also dont want to get another horse until shes 18.Thank you

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Hi Rebekah, this is a toughy for me to answer but as you know Quarter-type horses are most suited for barrel racing. If your horse is only half Arab and on the stocky side, your daughter may be plenty well-mounted through her teen years. If she is winning locally in her age group, I’d say stick with what you’ve got (it seems to be ‘working’) and what your daughter knows – just take darn good care of your mare (good conditioning helps) so that she’s more likely to keep running, winning and remain happy and healthy for “the long haul!” 🙂

      Reply
  28. Mikayla
    Mikayla says:

    Hi, my name is Mikayla. I’m 13 years old and have grown up around horses. I would like to know what I need to do so I can become a barrel racer. But I don’t know if I need a card in order to start. I watch the Tv show “Rodeo Girls” and look at what they do and how they do it but I’m still confused. I really want to do this when I grow up. So I would like some pointers and could you explain some steps to help me for when I first start. (I would like to know how I begin. So when I get to the rodeo I’m not confused.) Thanks, it means a lot.

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Hi Mikayla,
      Your best bet would be to start with small barrel races in your local area and work your way up to rodeos eventually based on how you’re doing. Smaller races require less expenses so are a good way to test yourself as you’re getting started. I think I have mentioned it quite a bit here too, but you’ll definitely want to connect with a local trainer/barrel racer who can take you under their wing and show you the ropes! You might even offer to clean stalls or do chores for them in return? Where there is a WILL there is a WAY!

      Reply
  29. Katey poe
    Katey poe says:

    Hi, I am 21 years old. I started barrel racing when I was just a kid. Starting off at a local riding club at 7 and working my way into nbha as time went on and also jackpots and bigger cosanctioned shows. Due to family issues I had to sell my horses at 14. I stopped riding in highschool because I was so heart broken over what happed. I have some very ambitious goals I want to accomplish in the industry and one of them is lost definately to be a professional barrel racer. So I am now 21 about to graduate as an equine major and have Been trying to get back into the sport but it’s hard. I don’t have the money to buy a horse, so I want to go in the route of work rking under a good barrel racer/trainer and grow from there. Do yoh have any suggestions? Am I going down the right track?

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Yes, Katey, this sounds like a good plan! I’m careful to recommend people to take on project horses, but if you just make the right connections I have a feeling a nice horse will show up. Just keep preparing yourself and when the time is right it will come together! 😉

      Reply
  30. Lexi
    Lexi says:

    Hey , I’m 14.. Yeah I know pretty young but I just started training for barrel racing . It’s basically the only thing I’m good at . I’m in the 9th .. What do you recommend me to do as far as rodeoing ?

    Reply
  31. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I’m 19 and have previously rode horses and know the basics but I don’t have my own horse or a place to keep any. My question is where do I even begin with it? I really want to do this and I know it’s a long journey but I want it so I can do it.

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      I think your best bet is to start making contacts with barrel racers or trainers in your area so that you can make some arrangements to at least start to do some riding/lessons as you gain clarity about the type of horse you want and get.

      Having a good, well-paying job is ideal so that you can save up for your own horse and truck/trailer, etc. It would be good to talk to people in your area about boarding facilities too, because that may be the best option for you if you’re not ready to buy your own property (that’s what I did through my early 20’s).

      Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      It all depends on what level you want to compete at, Whitney. You can find a nice finished horse for $10,000, of course prices can go well beyond that for very talented and proven individuals… lower level horses may be closer to the $5,000 range.

      Reply
      • Whitney
        Whitney says:

        Thank you, Heather! I grew up on a ranch and have rode horses forever and ran barrels through high school and college…but recently moved away from home and living in a city. Trying to save up to get started again! Had a few barrel prospects through college but have never actually purchased a finished horse!

        Reply
  32. Tabitha
    Tabitha says:

    Hi I’m 20 and iv been barrel racing sence I was12 I love this sport more than anything I had to give it up due to financial when I was 16 I swore I would be a pro barrel racer and you no what that’s what I’m ganna be .that feeling when you get it’s one of a kind.honestly I thought I can never do it agin but iv been THINKING for 2 yrs now of what I want to do as a career an it just came clear so lets do this Now the questions is in the wpra you have to travel state to state for the rodeos or do you just pick which ones to go to. Is it possible to be in the wpra and just go to rodeos on weekends does the entry fee cost up to 300 $ and how does the buddy thing work do they pair you up with some one . What is the difference between wpra and nbha is one smaller rodeo than the other the information helped me big time though thank you

    Reply
  33. Kayla
    Kayla says:

    Hey my name is Kayla and I am 17 years old. I love horses and have a passion for riding. One of my biggest dreams has always been to be a barrel racer, but I do not have a horse nor the room or money for one 🙁 what should I do?

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Hi Kayla, your best bet is to connect with some horsey people in your area – maybe attend a local event or check some classifieds or ask around at the local feed store, etc. about getting some riding lessons and I’m sure you’ll eventually get connected with some barrel racing people who’d be willing to help you out! Just keep an open mind but try to seek out professional, successful and respected people to make sure you learn good habits from the get go. Where there’s a WILL, there IS a WAY!

      Reply
  34. Lauren Reams
    Lauren Reams says:

    Hello,
    My name is Lauren and I absolutely love everything in the rodeo but mostly barrels. I just started riding a couple months ago and I’m picking up really fast. My instructor says she’s really amazed how fast of a learner I am and says I need more of a challenge. So I am riding barrel horses just to get used to a horse that wants to go fast. I am a junior in high school, 17. I would love to ride in college. I know it’s a late start but I plan on going to a community college for two years so maybe I could qualify by my junior year in college? If I made the team or not I would aspire to be a professional racer. I’m not sure if you can even answer these questions without knowing me and how I ride. I ride twice a week for an hour, sometimes longer. Please let me know if you have any answers or suggestions for me, thanks!

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      My best suggestion Lauren is to get LOTS MORE riding time in! And get yourself around as many high-level, respected trainers as you can. Because you’re starting a little later in life, you have an opportunity to be much more aware and purposeful about the habits you develop (that is a GOOD thing) – it’s so GREAT to be building good habits from the get go, much quicker and easier than having to UNlearn bad ones!

      Reply
  35. Jalyn
    Jalyn says:

    I am interested in barrel racing professionally in a few years. But I know I will need a job, and I was wondering if you recommended any careers that will be flexible with a barrel racing schedule? I was interested in becoming a Equine Vet Tech but would that be to much responsibility?

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      I started out my career as a Vet. Tech. Jalyn and it’s a delicate balance to find something you LOVE, that pays well and allows the time and flexibility to pursue your barrel racing – many careers will meet two of the three criteria, but it’s pretty tricky to nail them all! You will have an income ceiling as a Vet. Tech. and most likely not a whole lot of flexibility but it depends on the clinic… I love having my own business, it’s A LOT of work but I have flexibility AND do what I love. It’s really so dependent on your interests! For example dental hygenists usually have flexible hours or work four days/week and bring in a good income but it’s not something I would love doing. Gotta think about what areas you’re willing to sacrifice a little in?

      Reply
  36. 701sbutler
    701sbutler says:

    Heather,
    I have been looking into running IPRA next year. I have 2 horse that tend to be bottom of 2D top of 3D at the local jackpots and bigger shows around my area. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should be running to even consider running at the next level?

    Reply
  37. ashlyn turnbow
    ashlyn turnbow says:

    Would it be possible going into a college rodeo team to help get us to that place? Would it help us get noticed?

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      College rodeo is a great step toward running in the WPRA, but it’s not necessary or required and ‘getting noticed’ isn’t either… just need to be consistently competitive to stay on the upward spiral! 😉

      Reply
  38. Mckenzie
    Mckenzie says:

    Hi My name is mckenzie and i have loved barrel racing since i was little i used to do it when i was younger and i would like to start doing it again. what is the first step i should do in trying to get back to doing it again.

    Reply
  39. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    Hello, I am just getting back to being around and owning my own horse(s) as an adult. I have a dream to become a barrel racer, although, everyone including my husband says I am too old! I am 37 years old, I am beginning from the ground up with horsemanship…Do you think there will ever be a chance for me? I have read some remarkable stories of ladies winning in the very high ranks, but it seems as though they have been doing it their entire lives…Do you have any recommendations for me? I love your site!

    Reply
  40. Kailey
    Kailey says:

    My dream has always been to make it to the NFR. I believe in myself once I get the right horses. How many rodeos does it take to make it there? How much does it cost per month or year? How many miles do u travel per month and how many rodeos do you enter per month? Where do u keep your horses in between rodeos? How do you keep their minds fresh and them loving their jobs?

    Reply
  41. Siri
    Siri says:

    My question has to do with what kind of jobs provide enough money and time to be a professional barrel racer? I have a dream to be one and am trying to decide what major I should choose. I would love some opinion!

    Reply
  42. Isittrue
    Isittrue says:

    Does a horse need to be registered in your name to race professionally? Do What form do you need to provide at bigger rodeos? I’m wondering if Health Certificates, original transcripts of registration or any other record are required?
    Thanks for the help.

    Reply
  43. Cheyenne
    Cheyenne says:

    I would like to know how to manage my money better with my horses for traveling, entry fees,and care for myself and my horses

    Reply
  44. Javier
    Javier says:

    I was looking at the rodeo team at my college and I noticed that there’s no men’s barrel racing team, there’s only a women’s. Could you explain why?

    Reply
    • Heather Smith
      Heather Smith says:

      Barrel racing started out as the ONE event for women in rodeo, and so I suppose it’s stayed that way for many associations mainly because there were already so many other men’s events. Open barrel races allow men, as do futurities.

      Reply
  45. Shannon M
    Shannon M says:

    I have read the wprca rule book and can’t find anything on specification regarding a horse’s registration. Does your horse have to be registered to run them with your permit and/or your card? Thank you.

    Reply
  46. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    Hi,

    My name’s Amanda. I’m 13 years old, and my dream is to become a barrel racer. But my family is poor and has their income is not steady, as my dad works for himself, doing home remodeling. I make 200 a year from my allowance. And on top of that, I just don’t know where to start! Please help me.

    Reply
  47. Amanda Bueckert
    Amanda Bueckert says:

    Hi:) my name is Amanda I am 14 years old and my biggest dream is to become a barrel racer. I have a partbred Arabian horse and shes 7 years old is it to late to start training her?

    Reply
  48. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Hi my name is Rebecca I live in North Carolina and I am 16 years old and I want to become a barrel racer. I do not own a horse yet but I looked up all I need to do before I get a horse. I have so many questions. 1 what kind of saddle do you need for barrel racing. 2. What all do I need for barrel racing. 3.
    Where are the best rodeos in north carolina. 4

    Reply
    • Selah
      Selah says:

      Well I can answer some of the questions, you need a barrel saddle, i ride in a crown Martin. Find a saddle that is good quality, fits the horse you are getting, and that you like. Get a bit that the horse works well in. Bell boots, splint boots, barrel reins, breast collar, if your horse needs it a wither strap, a saddle pad that I good for your horse, and that’s all I can think of right now.

      Reply
  49. Ash
    Ash says:

    Now that there are TONS of pro rodeos I’ve heard the terms slack and perf. What do those mean, I know slack is after the rodeo and perf is performance so, during the rodeo. But is that all that they are? And how would you know which one you’d rather run in at that rodeo, or both?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  50. sara
    sara says:

    hi im saraim reaaly young 12 but i want to barrel race but my horse is ffor pleasur. Is there anyway i can still barrel race with her. At my house we have a horse that would make a great horse but isnt trained . what do i do i need nhelp

    Reply
    • Tina
      Tina says:

      I recently was given the opportunity to own a beautiful 17 year old quarter horse gelding. His movements are fluid and he definitely has a passion for speed. About two years ago he had a sesamoid fracture, of which he has been given an all clear and I was told by the vet that treated him through the injury he is sound. I mainly stick to smaller speed shows as there isn’t a whole lot of rodeo action in Michigan (although we see some really good ones up here in northern Michigan!) A friend of mine thinks I should try to start him on barrels. I guess my concern is for his age. In the past I’ve worked horses as young as three on the pattern and I’ve raced horses well into senior years. (Just put my 45 year old made down who lived for barrel racing, she was a healthy as could be until I retired her at 41 years old!!!). However, is it really fair to start a horse on barrels at an older age? I am quite happy with him just being a trail horse….but he has proven to be a lover of a good run…what are your thoughts on this?

      Reply
  51. Hailey
    Hailey says:

    So age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting into barrel racing ? I’m 27 started getting into horse riding lessons and barrel racing back in 2010 during high school but didn’t work out with my schedule … so now I’m getting back into it through training but have to start all over in buying a horse and trailer in the future . So hold off on buying and should I seee about using someone’s horse for rodeos until I get a good feel for my future In barrel racing

    Reply

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