(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
The race in the grandstand arena was put on in conjunction with the Heartland Barrel Racing Association. The association's Tyler Williams said it was a mutual decision between the association and the fair staff to decide to try barrel racing this year because horse racing competitions seem to be popular in the area.
There were 106 competitors registered for the Heartland Barrel Racing Extravaganza.
Barrel racing is a timed rodeo event in which the horse and rider attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels at the fastest speed possible. The average time for each run is about 15 seconds. Precise control is necessary because the time does not count if a barrel is knocked over. The majority of competitors are female, and competitors ranged in age from the young to senior citizens.
Sunday's event ran an open division with side pots to determine winners -- that is, each horse ran once and then the time was used for both the open division as well as youth and adult divisions.
There were also a Pee Wee division for riders ages 6 and under. One of the four Pee Wee competitors was Kalee Layne Schoot, 3, who rode her horse Conclusive. Kalee said she participates in barrel racing "because I love them," referring to the horses.
Kalee won her first buckle for barrel racing when she was 2.
Kay Hale of the Heartland Barrel Racing Association said the average age to begin barrel racing seemed to be around 8, although most had been riding for years before taking up the sport.
Susan King, a mother of one of the competitors, said her daughter started out on ponies but saw the big girls riding fast so she wanted to pick up the sport. Barrel racing takes a lot of work and dedication, she said. Riders not only have to practice, they also have to care for the horse, especially the legs and feet. She described the sport as "a whole generational family thing."
To learn more about barrel racing or to find out the results of the Heartland Barrel Racing Extravaganza, visit the Heartland Barrel Racing Association's website at www.heartlandbra.webs.com.
Arena Park, Cape Girardeau MO