Western Horse Speed Events

A cowgirl barrel racing.
A cowgirl barrel racing.


My one experience of a western horse speed event was when I was in high school back in the seventies. A girlfriend talked me into entering a race during one of the horse shows we were attending. From what I can remember I rode the horse first and she hung onto the horse’s tail and I kicked the horse into a gallop as she ran along side.

All was going pretty good until it was my turn to hang onto the tail while my friend did the riding. I lasted about five running steps with dirt in the face and mouth from the horse’s hooves. Then my whole face was in the dirt as I landed belly down on the ground. Needless to say we did not win that race.

That was my only try at a horse speed event, not because I didn’t want to participate anymore, but mostly because I just never had the chance again. Now, I would like to make a chance. Maybe sometime that will happen.

In the meantime I can write about it.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting:

I’m not sure when this event came into being, but it sure is one I’d like to try.

Right up front there’s a warning that if you don’t know how to fire a pistol or can handle a horse galloping his fastest this sport may not be for you. Sadly I rank in this category, but still would love to learn. Anything can be learned if you want to learn it bad enough.

How Mounted Shooting is performed is with every rider dressed the way they dressed in the old west. With holster around your waist carrying two .45 caliber single-action pistols that are loaded with black powder blanks. A course is set up with balloons and barrels.

The object is to stay in the pattern and shoot as many balloons in the pattern as you can while riding a galloping horse and maneuvering through a course. Doesn’t sound easy and it isn’t. It takes skill and precision.

Both riding and shooting skills are judged.

There is the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA) that has all the rules and regulations mapped out so everyone from adults, seniors, and Juniors along with Wranglers, who are kids under 12, can participate and enjoy the competition.

Barrel Racing:

Running around the barrels is another event I have always wanted to try, but so far the chances have not come my way.

This race is putting three fifty-five gallon barrels in a triangle in an arena then having your horse sprint around the barrels in a clover leaf pattern as fast as the horse can run without knocking any barrels over.

I think it may have been an exhibition ride to make Barrel Racing even harder, but I just watched a video that portrayed the cowgirl riding bareback and the horse had only a halter and lead rope for her to have control. She made a wonderful ride. It was a lot of fun to watch.

Pole Bending:

Another event that challenges horse and rider against time is Pole Bending. In this race the horse and rider zigzags through six poles placed in a straight line.

The Nez Perce Indians have a type of similar race called the Nez Perce Stake Race. This time it is two horses and two riders and two patterns of poles set up in a straight line. The two riders race against each other. The loser is eliminated and the winner goes on to compete against other winners until they are down to the final winner.

There are other gymkhana games to play with horses that maybe I’ll write about in a later blog.

Thanks for stopping by my hitching post. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I’ll answer as best as I can.

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