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Barrel Racing

Barrel racing is a rodeo sport that involves riding on a horse around large obstacles in a cloverleaf pattern. Participants enter from the south end and manoeuvre the horse clockwise around the first barrel on the east corner ("barrel 1"), then wind counter-clockwise around the barrel on the west corner ("barrel 2"), then go around the third barrel at the north corner ("barrel 3",) and then race back to the south end. In competitions, this is a timed event, with the clock starting and stopping when the horse crosses the red line at the south end. There is a time penalty if barrels are knocked over (regulation sized barrels are 55 gallons). The regulation distances are 90 feet between the east and west barrels, 105 feet between the north barrel and each of the east and west barrels, and 60 feet between the red line and the east and west barrels.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Barrels; Chasing cans

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

Rodeo sports developed from cattle ranching tasks in the western United States. These sports became professionalized in the late 1800s as several major competitions, including the Calgary Stampede, were established. Their popularity has grown recently in the GTA, with upwards of 50 rodeo events taking place over the calendar year. Barrel racing, specifically, originated in Texas in the mid-20th century and quickly spread to Alberta and then other parts of Canada as part of rodeo tours.

Who takes part?

Males and females of diverse ages may participate, although many participants are White males from rural areas.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

Rodeo competitions occur throughout the year. The Ontario High School Rodeo Association hosts several competitions throughout the school year. The Ontario Riding Association hosts professional and amateur rodeo events on a monthly basis. Professional rodeo circuits also host events in the GTA area occasionally during the year.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

The Ontario High School Rodeo Association; Ontario Rodeo Association; Canadian Rodeo Association

Cultural Significance

While rodeo sports do not hold cultural significance with specific ethnocultural groups, these activities and their associated “cowboy culture” can be viewed as symbolically important in some rural Canadian communities.

Is there anything else we should know?

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