Barrel racing is a western horse riding discipline involving completing a barrel pattern (cloverleaf pattern) in the fastest time. Quarter horses are the absolute best for barrel racing as they are the fastest horses over short distances. A good barrel horse must reach high speeds from standing still and stopping to turn on a dime. Good barrel racing horses have the drive to work and are athletically gifted to go top speed in a few seconds and do tight turns fast.
They are known to be one of the world’s most versatile horses, as they can be used for many disciplines and equine sports. They are the most popular breed for shorter races, such as the quarter-mile race (where the breed got its name). An appendix quarter horse is also a great ‘breed’ used for barrel racing; it is a mix between a first-generation thoroughbred and a quarter horse. The best barrel racing horse breeds also include thoroughbred, paint, grade, and Arabian horses.
If you are looking into barrel racing and looking for a good barrel prospect, prospect breeding is a crucial aspect, but it is not the only thing to keep in mind. The horse’s personality is as important as the horse’s athletic ability. Barrel racers must be eager to work and love their job as it requires so much energy going from start to stop multiple times in a race; hence, it requires trainable temperaments. The ideal horse should also have sound conformation and good legs with powerful hindquarters.
Barrel Racing Horse Facts
- Average height: 14-16hh (142-163cm)
- Top Speed: 55mph (88.5km/h) (at full speed)
- Breed: American Quarter Horse
- Fastest Time: The fastest time we could find records of Hailey Kinsel’s 13.11 seconds at the National Finals Rodeo.
Famous Barrel Racing Riders
Hailey Kinsel is a world champion barrel racer in the United States and is known for her fantastic quarter-horse mare DM Sissy Hayday aka ‘Sister.’ Sister is a Palomino American Quarter Horse mare she bought as a 2-year-old barrel horse prospect. Hailey only realized she would be a winning barrel racer a few years later as they underwent some training challenges. But the horse’s athleticism eventually proved enough to compete at a high level.
Sister has become an incredible money earner, earning Hailey over $1,000,000 in winnings over the last few years. Hailey’s career started taking off in 2017 after she qualified for RFD-TV’s The American and ended up splitting a $1 million side pot with two other competitors.
The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association announced in 2019 that Hailey was ranked No. 1 after her Rd 7 win in the 2019 Wrangler NFR (her time was 13.60 seconds).
Hailey is still humble and down to earth and spends her days trail riding with her mom at the ranch during the off-season.