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Barrel Racing Pattern - Defined

Barrel Racing Pattern - The pattern, or order, in which a barrel racer must gallop their horse around three 55-gallon barrels during the barrel racing event. The barrel racing pattern is shaped like a cloverleaf, or triangle.

The rider has the choice of turning either the right or left barrel first. It is most common to take the right barrel first because most horses are naturally more athletic when working to their left. By taking the right barrel first the horse will have one right-hand turn (the first barrel), and two left-hand turns (the second and third barrels).

Right-Handed Barrel Racing Pattern

Below: This illustration shows shows the barrel racing pattern with the right barrel being turned first. This is sometimes called a right-handed pattern. This is the way the barrel racing pattern is most commonly ran.

Barrel racing pattern

Left-Handed Barrel Racing Pattern

Below: This illustration shows shows the barrel racing pattern with the left barrel being turned first. This is sometimes called a left-handed pattern. It is not as common as a right-handed pattern, but is still legal.

Left-handed barrel racing pattern

Breaking The Barrel Racing Pattern

If a barrel racer does not go around the barrels in the correct order, it is called "breaking the pattern" and results in a no time.


About Barrel Racing

Barrel racing is a competitive event in which a horse and rider run a cloverleaf or triangular pattern around three barrels. It is a timed event in which the fastest time wins. Though most recognized as a sport competed in by women, depending on what (if any) governing body sanctions a barrel race the rider may be either male or female.

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