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Hi Cowboy Bob,

I was wondering if there is a correct way of running the barrels. If so how? Because I would really like to know so I won't always be thinking that I'm doing it wrong and praying that I won't get yelled at for doing the barrels wrong. Well I hope to hear from you soon! Thanks


-- J. S.


If you mean a correct way of riding your horse in a barrel race, I'd suggest that you take a look at my Q&A #5 for tips on using your legs and balance to work with the horse.

Barrel race patterns On the other hand, if you're asking about the correct pattern for the race, the best thing for you to do is take a look at this chart (courtesy of the University of Kentucky).

The keys to riding a correct pattern are to always go to the far side of the next barrel and always do a complete circle of each barrel. You may start with either the barrel on the left or the right -- it's your choice. Ride to the far side of the barrel. The next two turns will always be in the opposite direction of the first. For example, if you begin with the right-hand barrel, you'll start with a right-hand turn. Next, you'll go to the barrel to the left of the entrance and make a left-hand turn. Finally, you'll ride to the right side of the far barrel and make another left turn -- and then run to the finish line.

Here's a little strategy tip: most horses are more comfortable turning one direction or the other. Which ever it is, that's the direction you want to go for your second and third turns. In my experience, most horses do better turning to the left (perhaps because that's the way races are run in the U.S.). That may explain why most barrel racers seem to head for the right-hand barrel first.

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