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Fast horses, tough cowgirls, and three barrels make up the components of the women’s barrel racing event. A fan favorite at rodeos, the women’s barrel racing has been just one of a handful of events centered solely around women and the bond she shares with her horse. Like other timed rodeo events, the winner of the barrel racing can occasionally beat their rivals by only a thousandth of a second. The winner is determined by the speed of the horse, and whether or not it can make a clean run without knocking over a barrel for a five-second penalty. While the sport was initially just for the women, men are allowed to compete at specific races. The sport is for people of all ages and levels of experience.
Girls as young as third grade are competing in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) against veteran racers. The WPRA is the oldest professional organization in the sport. Initially identified as the Girls Rodeo Association, the WPRA started holding sanctioned barrel races in 1948. The National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) is another key racing organization competed in. The NBHA has a system that allows competitors of varying talent levels to compete together. This inspires both new riders and veteran riders to compete alongside and appreciate the thrilling event. With some competitions having payouts and awards packages greater than $250,000, it’s hard not to want to participate.
The sport has come a long way with lots of hard work and perseverance. It wasn’t until the year of 1949 that barrel racing was judged off of the shortest time and not off of the appearance of the girl and her horse. This is also the year women were offered prize money instead of gifts such as make-up and hair products. As barrel racing continues to grow in numbers of participation size, it also continues to grow in the hearts of rodeo fans who want to cheer on these cowgirls.
Below are some of our favorite barrel racers throughout time! Let us know who your favorite is!
Charmayne James, widely regarded as the most famous barrel racer of all-time, has never been one to shy away from breaking records. With her 10 consecutive world titles aboard Gills Bay Boy “Scamper,” and coming back in 2002 to win another world title on Cruisin on Six “Cruiser,” Charmayne has set the bar high and given today’s aspiring barrel racers a role model to look up to.
Our next cowgirl highlight is 4-Time World Champion Barrel Racer from Marana, Arizona, Sherry Cervi. This flawless horsewoman is one of the toughest barrel racers to compete against in the WPRA and won the World Title at the 2013 (WNFR) Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, NV. Check out more on Sherry here.
It takes grit, passion, and confidence to be a cowgirl, and Fallon Taylor, 2014 WPRA Barrel Racing World Champion, has always embodied these three qualities. At the young age of 13, Fallon came racing into the rodeo spotlight when she qualified for the 1995 National Finals Rodeo (NFR). She went on to qualify again in ‘96, ‘97, and ‘98, before taking time off from the rodeo circuit to move to New York City to pursue a modeling career, which proved to be very successful. The rodeo star left New York after 10 years to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles and landed roles in a number of popular tv shows and movies. You can now catch Fallon working in her own business and working with companies like Total Feeds to better herself and her horses!
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