Another day, another barrel

Courtesy photo used with permission from Carla Frisch of Fresh Creations by Carla
Darting past her second barrel, junior Abby E. and her horse, Peanut, place third at a Madison barrel racing competition. When racing, Abby prefers to head toward the right barrel first due to the way her horse has been trained.

Nicole B., Co-Editor

An adrenaline rush has taken over your body. Your speed increases as the thought of victory dominates your mind. Everything quickly turns into a blur.

That was a rush. What just happened?

Two weekends a month, juniors Katie R. and Abby E. hop on the saddle to compete at barrel racing competitions across Nebraska.

Barrel racing is an event in which riders follow a clover leaf pattern on their horse in an arena. Three barrels are placed in the stadium, two alongside each other and another in the center farther away. Whether you go right or left first depends on the way you trained your horse, Katie and Abby said.

Each race is timed, and the fastest time wins. If a barrel tips over, it is considered a “no time,” disqualifying the rider from the race and eliminating the opportunity to win money.

“It’s rewarding when you put all the time, work, and money into it. You go run and you’re successful and you win,” Abby said. “It’s a huge adrenaline rush because it’s so fast. Sometimes when I come out I can’t even remember what it’s like. It’s just such a rush.”

Barrel racing competitions take place year round. In the summer, the tournaments occur in outdoor pens, while in the winter they occur in indoor pens due to weather conditions. The girls have traveled all around Nebraska, including places like David City, Columbus, Fremont, Lincoln, Broken Bow, and Ericson.

With great competitions come great relationships, and that’s exactly what Katie and Abby hold with their horses. Katie’s horse’s name is Renegade, and Renegade happens to be 17 years old, just like Katie.

Renegade didn’t always know barrel racing. At the start, Renegade was just a “pleasure horse,” which means he only did slow work and hung around for people to ride him.

“We started from the bottom, and he has definitely put his heart into what he does,” Katie said. “We are pretty much to the top by now, and I’ve definitely figured out what I need to do and what he needs to do. I’ve been riding him for five years, so we have a really good connection.”

Abby’s horse’s registered name is Peppy la Peanut, but her horse now goes by Peanut. Peanut was purchased at the age of three. From there, Abby began training her.

Katie and Abby put a large amount of care and time into their horses to make sure Renegade and Peanut reach their full potential for each and every one of their races.

Balancing volleyball and academics, Abby practices with Peanut three times a week. Once volleyball comes to an end, it doubles and Abby spends six days a week dedicated to Peanut.

“Sometimes I practice barrels, but other times it’s just riding your horse, keeping her in shape,” Abby said. “If you practice on barrels too much, they’ll get bored, just like if you do anything all the time, you get bored.”

Katie prefers to exercise her horse and keep him in shape by simply riding him down the road. If a big run is coming up, Katie sometimes rides to Abby’s and practices with her.

Caring for the horses is a big time commitment on the girls’ daily schedules. Every day the girls have many responsibilities for their horses, including filling their hay bags, cleaning out their pens and water tanks, grooming them, giving them hydro-therapy, bathing them, and graining them.

A happy relationship is a healthy relationship, and although barrel racing is a competitive sport, the girls said they try to put their friendship first and always support each other.

“We are very competitive when it comes to barrel racing. We both know that we’re each other’s competition, and we try to cheer each other on. That’s what keeps us going,” Katie said. “But all in all, we really try to cheer each other on and keep it positive between us.”

For the girls, barrel racing won’t stop after high school. Abby intends to rodeo in college so that she can keep her horse when she moves away from home. Katie also plans on going to college to barrel race, and afterward plans on helping kids with barrel racing and getting to know the foundation of it.

Both girls stress the importance of barrel racing and how much hard work is put into it. They both agree that they are blessed to have the horses they possess today and that barrel racing is at the top of the charts for them.

“My horse is number one. I try to take care of her the best so she can do the best for me so that we can be successful,” Abby E. said.