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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.
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:
- What it Takes to Make NFR Barrel Racing Dreams Come True
- Are Time, Energy & Money Parasites Stealing Your Barrel Racing Dreams?
- Six Steps to Build a Financial Foundation that Supports Your Barrel Racing Habit
- Learn, Earn, Turn & Burn – How to Create a Lifestyle That Supports Your Barrel Racing Dreams