Gone Outdoors

How to Set Up Barrels in Barrel Racing

by Contributing Writer

Do you want to teach your horse to barrel race? Your horse needs to be strong, fast and follow commands well. Get your barrels and horse ready but don’t forget to keep track of your horse's time. To follow the NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association) rules, you must place your barrels as follows.

Choose the area. The ground substance in which your horse will be racing on may greatly affect its time. For instance, a horse running in a muddy area is likely to be slower than a horse running on hard ground. Take this into consideration. The area should be fenced, with plenty of room since you are running horses.

Measure the area. Typically you will have a barrel to the left, one to the right and the third goes in the center back. You must have a certain amount of space between the first two barrels and the fences on the side (at least 15 feet). The distance between the back of the fence and the third barrel needs to be at least 30 feet. The starting line must also be spaced 30 feet from the first barrel.

Get your barrels. You will need three simple barrels. You will be creating a pattern with them. Once you have your areas measured, you need to mark them for barrel placement.

Place the barrels. Remember, you can place your barrels in any pattern as long as they fit these rules. The best thing to do is to place them according to your racing area.

Do a test run. If you want to see how well the pattern will work, the best way is to do a test run. Whether you start left to right or right to left does not matter. As long as the horse circles all of the barrels going in a clover leaf pattern the time will count. Best time wins.

Items you will need
  • Barrels
  • Stopwatch
  • Measuring stick
  • Markers