Freshman Alandria Jones takes the reigns of her horse and competes in a barrel race.
Freshman Alandria Jones takes the reigns of her horse and competes in a barrel race.

Galloping to the Finish

Freshmen Competes in Barrel Racing

As the wind blows over the dirt floor we hear the announcer say, “on your marks…”. She gets in position on her horse as “get set” echoes through the rodeo. With the final “go” she takes off speeding towards the barrels. Once she goes around the last barrel she shoots forward racing to earn a new personal best. Finally she makes it to the finish at a new personal best of 10 seconds as the crowd cheers for her.

Alandria Jones is a freshman who participates competitively in barrel racing. Her competitions have currently been halted because of the coronavirus, and is it currently unknown when competitions will start again.

“My favorite part about barrel racing would probably be going around the barrels and trying not to knock them down,” Jones said. “But also [it is important to] make sure my horse will actually listen to me and not buck me off.”

Barrel racing is a competitive horse racing sport where the riders compete to get the best time. The race is set up in a cloverleaf pattern which consists of three barrels set up in a triangular position with a start/finish line set up around 60 feet away.

 “You’ll make a figure eight on the right side and go around inside and across,” Jones said. “When you go to the middle you’ll have to shoot forward and go around it, but when you’re coming back you have to book it.”

The barrels are in a triangle configuration with the distance between the right and left barrels being 60 feet from the start line. The middle barrel is 105 feet from the starting line which is the final barrel you head around.

“My [most] exciting part in a race was probably when I got my highest [time] which was ten,” Jones said. “I started crying because I was so excited I made it.”

In barrel racing, the racers use certain strategies to get the fastest time they can. Some of these techniques are slowing down your horse at specific spots or pointing your horse in a certain direction.

“When I first started going to my church I went to one of the rodeos and I saw barrel racing and I [knew I wanted to try it out],” Jones said. “So I got a hold of a horse trainer and she started getting me into barrel racing and then I started my first rodeo.”

The race usually consists of five racers who will individually race their horses in a random order. When a racer knocks down a barrel or does not follow the pattern correctly they will either get a deduction around 5 seconds or get a “no time” call depending on the show.

“My day [starts with] cleaning my horse and then getting my equipment ready,” Jones said. “And finally [I] practice around the barrel before my race.”

The equipment used in barrel racing includes a saddle, spurs, sport boots and a proper bit, which is an attachment that goes around the horse’s mouth. The right equipment allows for safety and security during a race in case of an accident with the horse or rider.

“Have fun,” Jones said. “Be yourself and enjoy barrel racing.”

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