Women Only!–Barrel Racing in Rodeo

HebbynewBioPicHebby Roman is the multi-published, Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction.

She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection.

She is blessed to have all her family living close by in north Texas, including her two granddaughters, Mackenzie Reese and Presley Davis. Hebby lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Luis, and maltipoo, Maximillian.

My latest release, “Border Affair,” is one of the eight books in the contemporary western anthology, “Come Love A Cowboy.” The second book in my On the Border Series, this book takes place on the Texas-Mexican border and features a heroine who puts her college education on hold in order to compete at the national level as a barrel racer on the rodeo circuit.

barrelracingBarrel racing is a rodeo event where a horse and rider attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels (typically three 55 gallon metal or plastic drums) in the fastest time. For professional rodeo purposes, barrel racing is primarily a rodeo event for women. It combines the horse’s athletic ability and the horsemanship skills of a rider.

Professional barrel riders are usually members of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). The WPRA was developed in 1948 by a group of Texas women who wanted to be recognized as professionals on the rodeo circuit. Today, barrel racing is a part of most rodeos. The WPRA is divided into 12 divisional circuits.

In barrel racing the purpose is to make a run as fast as possible. The times, in most nationally-recognized rodeos, are measured by an electric eye, a device using a laser system to record times. The timer begins when horse and rider cross the start line, and ends when the barrel pattern has been successfully executed. BarrelRacing2Beginning a race, the horse and rider will enter the arena at top speed, usually through an alley. Once the electronic beam is crossed, the timer starts running and keeps running until the beam is crossed again at the end of the run. Modern barrel racing horses not only need to be fast, but also strong, agile, and intelligent.

The approach to the first barrel is a critical moment in executing a successful pattern; the rider must rate her horse’s speed at the right moment to enter the correct path to make a perfect turn. The rider can decide whether to go to the left or to the right of the first barrel. Each turn in barrel racing should be a relatively even half circle around the barrel. In approaching the second barrel, the rider will be looking through the turn and focused on the spot to enter the second barrel, across the width of the arena. Now the horse and rider will go around the second barrel in the opposite direction, compared to the first, following exactly the same procedure and switching to the opposite limbs. Next, running toward the backside of the arena (opposite the entrance), the horse and rider will tackle the third and final barrel, in the same direction as the second barrel was taken. Completing the final turn sends them flying “home,” which represents crossing the timer line once more to finish.

Standard barrel racing patterns call for a precise distance between the start line and the first barrel, from the first to the second barrel, and from the second to the third barrel. The pattern from every point of the cloverleaf will have a precisely measured distance from one point to the next. Usually, the established distances are as follows: 90 feet between barrel #1 and barrel #2; 105 feet between barrel #1 and #3 and between #2 and #3; and 60 feet from barrels #1 and #2 to the score line. Distances can vary, especially based on size of the arena or for juvenile events, although, the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA), has established minimum distances for the pattern.

barrelracing1Barrel racing is based on the fastest time. Running past a barrel and off pattern will result in a “no time” score and disqualification. If a barrel racer or her horse hits a barrel and knocks it over there is a time penalty of five seconds.

No specific bits are required for barrel racing, though bits with longer shanks are often used. Reins are fully intact, unlike split reins, for easier recoveries. Knotted reins are also common, allowing for a better grip. A lightweight saddle with a high horn and cantle is ideal. Forward strung stirrups are ideal for the rider’s proper positioning. Typically, riders choose a saddle that is up to a full size smaller than one they would normally use.

For you western lovers, I hope you have enjoyed this explanation of the sport of barrel racing in professional rodeos, which features talented riders and agile horses. And I hope you will read more about barrel racing in my story, “Border Affair.”

BorderAffairMediumBORDER AFFAIR:  When his partners’ daughter is kidnapped in México, a self-made millionaire must confront his feelings about their affair and the future of their relationship.


Excerpt:  “I worked my ass off, getting him to canter,” Rusty said. “And you can’t be bothered to watch.”

“I was watching,” Camila protested.

“No, you weren’t. What’s so damned interesting in the dirt? Mining for gold or something.”

“Oh, Rusty, get over it.” She wiped her forehead with the back of her arm. “I was just resting my eyes.”


“Yeah, and do you mind catching him before he gets tangled in the tether and manages to lame himself.”

“I can see being your assistant is going to suck,” he muttered loud enough to hear. “And we can’t keep calling this horse ‘him’.” He stretched his arms wide and cracked the switch again, driving the sorrel into a corner of the corral.

He bent over and grabbed the rope.

The breath stopped in her lungs. Por Dios, was he one gorgeous hunk of man. Forget his age or that he’d lost too much weight. Just looking at Rusty made her heart go pitter-patter. So much for a girlhood crush that refused to go away.

“What are you going to name him?”

“Huh?” She’d lost the thread of concentration, wishing she and Rusty were in bed together, rather than hollering across a dusty corral. “Oh, name him. Hmmm. How about Calypso?”

He ran one hand over the stubble on his jaw. And she wished she could run her tongue over his jaw and neck and lower. Wished she could explore every inch of him with her mouth and tongue.

“Not bad. I like it,” he said.

“I’m glad you approve.”

He pulled the gelding forward by his halter, stopping on the other side of the fence. “Calypso, meet your new trainer.”

She fished a slice of apple from her pocket and handed it to the yearling. “Never too soon to start rewarding him for good behavior.”

Calypso lipped the apple slice and crunched it. She stroked the white blaze running from his forehead and tapering off at his muzzle. He had three white socks, too.

Rusty hooked his free arm over the fence post and gazed at the yearling. He stood within inches of her but towering over her by a half a foot. He was so close to her, she could smell his perspiration and the earthy man-smell of him. His down-to-earth scent was far more arousing than the expensive cologne he usually wore.

He patted the horse’s neck and said, “Well, what do you think? Does he have possibilities?”

“Yeah, sure, but he’s too young to pigeon-hole as a barrel racer or cutting horse or whatever yet.”

He pursed his mouth. “You’re probably right. Hard to tell until they’re under saddle.”

She gazed at the thin line of his pursed mouth. Hard and masculine, just the way she liked a man’s mouth. All these years of dreaming about kissing him and they’d shared nothing more than pecks on the cheeks.

He was looking straight at her. Did he feel the same pull, the same attraction as she did? Or did he still see her as a child?

He stared at her for a long time, his gaze riveted on her mouth. Was he thinking about kissing her, the way she’d been thinking? She hoped so.

He patted her hand on the fence rail and said, “I’m going to walk him around ‘til he cools down. Chuy will help me get him settled in his stall. You should get some rest, put your leg up. Okay?”

She nodded and closed her eyes, wanting him so bad, she hurt.


You can find more about Hebby’s books at: http://www.hebbyroman.com or her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHebbyRoman  You can find her Author Page on Amazon at:  http://www.amazon.com/Hebby-Roman/e/B001KI1L0O/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1456359596&sr=1-2-ent For more beautiful pictures of barrel racing, visit her “Come Love a Cowboy” Board on Pinterest at: https://www.pinterest.com/callofmuse/.

And find the western contemporary romance anthology, “Come Love A Cowboy” at:  myBook.to/Come-Love-A-Cowboy

or    http://www.amazon.com/Come-Love-Cowboy-Kathleen-Ball-ebook/dp/B01D5876UK/

18 responses to “Women Only!–Barrel Racing in Rodeo

  1. Thank you, Andrea, for hosting my book today, “Border Affair,” from our contemporary western anthology, “Come Love A Cowboy.” I really enjoyed researching and finding out more about barrel racing. I was especially intrigued to learn that this almost-all woman sport’s professional organization began right here in Texas, where I call home.


    • Hebby, it was a pleasure. As you know, I LOVE rodeo so this was an absolute treat for me to read. I’m a bit puzzled by you saying it is an ALMOST all-women sport–I’ve never seen men compete in barrel racing. Have you?


  2. I enjoyed your post, Hebby, and learning about barrel racing. Looking forward to reading your book, Border Affair!


  3. Barrel racing has always been my favorite rodeo event, probably because it’s the only one primarily for women. Love your post today! 🙂


  4. Andi, you have a great blog and we appreciate you sharing it with us.


  5. Hello Hebby and Andrea,

    Loved to learn more about barrel racing. Come to think of it, in the rodeos I’ve attended, I haven’t seen men participate. I’ve seen young adults and even middle school cowboys and cowgirls, and then women.

    I loved Border Affair and think it’s a great addition to COME LOVE A COWBOY.

    Kudos, Hebby!



  6. Andi, nope, we leave tomorrow, for as you say, rain soaked South TX. I really know how to pick my times to go. Hmmm. Oh, well. We’re accustomed to flooding, that’s the way it is mostly in TX, flood or drought, we don’t go in for normal weather patterns. LOL
    Oh, and the reason I said: “almost all women” sport, is because (but I didn’t want to include in blog because then it would have made it way too long), some men do still compete in barrel racing at small local or regional rodeos. It’s not common, but it does happen, found that out in my research. Even found some pics of guys competing. But for most large rodeos, it is an all-woman sport.
    Carra, thanks for coming over and commenting.


    • Hmmmm. Not sure what I think of men competing–what’s going through my mind is, are they too soft for bronco riding?LOL On the other hand, there really is no reason why women shouldn’t compete in roping; they rope out on the range so, if they’re strong enough, they ought to be allowed. Of course, tossing a 200 lb calf does take strength…


  7. Margo, thanks for dropping by and re-blogging. I appreciate it. I love barrel racing, too.
    Hello, Caroline, glad you could drop by, too.


  8. Hebby, I loved your story in Come Love a Cowboy. You wove in the world of rodeos so well. I enjoyed reading more about it today. Very interesting post.


  9. Patti, flattery about my books will get you everywhere. LOL I enjoyed your book, too! As I said before, your sexual tension at the start of the book was awesome! And I loved your dude ranch setting. But let’s be fair, all the books were great!!!


  10. This sounds like a really great book, and what a super excerpt. on my TR List! Barrel racing is quite popular here in the UK at Western shows. I remember once I entered what was described as a fun barrel race – bareback! As we went round the first barrel the horse I rode slipped and I went straight out the ‘side door’. As I vainly tried to haul myself back on board before I hit the ground, I realised the horse I’d been given was a Fjord – no long silky mane but something that looked like a scrubbing brush! (No insults to Fjords intended, but there was nothing to grab hold of!) I did get back on and finished the course but it was very embarassing!


    • I’m laughing my head off here, Lyn–not sure about Hebby. Aren’t Fjords the ones that have Mohawks for manes? I’m wondering why you were riding that, but the visual is great. thanks for stopping by.


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