Extra Credit Should Be Given If...

Entry Number is shown on saddle blanket or on rider's back.

A comment line that says where the horse is in the pattern

Model cuts in extremely close to barrel

Model exhibits flexion, tork or supple body bends around barrels.

Points Should be Deducted If...

Rider uses nub spurs forward of the cinch.

Loss of hat

Set-Up Options

Arena Fencing Required:
Indoor or Outdoor Arena
Types of Fencing Allowed
Painted or Natural

Post and Rail

Post and Plank

Chain Link

Solid Plyboard

Plyboard with Top Rail

Post with Drape Rope

Stock Tube Pipe Rail

Interior Arena Wall

Footing Required:


No grass base

No rock base

Backboard or Natural Setting:


English Barrel Racing

A timed event, barrel racing is judged strictly on the time and a completed and correct pattern of a cloverleaf around three barrels. A five second penalty is added for each barrel knocked over and disqualification for going off pattern. Size of pattern varies by breed association but average is 30 -35 yards a part in a triangle. Some associations add a penalty for a lost hat. Mistakes to look for: Split reins, unsafe equipment.

(a) The course must be measured exactly according to diagram and cannot exceed these dimensions. However, if the course is too large for the available space, the pattern should be reduced five yards at a time until the pattern fits the arena. Adequate space must remain between barrels and any obstacle. The distance from barrel number three to the finish line need not be reduced five yards (4.6 meters) at a time if there is sufficient room for the horse to stop. When measuring the area for the barrel course, allow ample room for horses to complete their turns and stop at the finish. It is recommended there be at least 45 feet (13.5 meters) from the starting line to the end of the arena, at least 18 feet (5.4 meters) from barrels 1 and 2 to the fence and 36 feet (10.8 meters) from barrel 3 to the end of the arena.

(b) Brightly colored 55 gallon (200 liters) steel drums with both ends in must be used. There shall be no rubber or plastic barrels or barrel pads used.

(c) Starting line markers or electric timers, when possible, shall be placed against the arena fence. An electric timer or at least two watches shall be used, with the time indicated by the electric timer or average time of the watches used by official timers to be the official time.

(d) Timing shall begin as soon as the horse’s nose reaches the starting line and will be stopped when the horse’s nose passes over the finish line.

(e) The contestant is allowed a running start. At a signal from the starter, the contestant will run to barrel number 1, pass to the left of it, and complete an approximately 360 degree turn around it; then go to barrel number 2, pass to the right of it, and complete a slightly more than 360 degree turn around it; then go to barrel number 3, pass to the right of it, and do another approximately 360 degree turn around it; then sprint to the finish line, passing between barrel number 1 and 2. This barrel course may also be run to the left. For example, the contestants will start to barrel number 2, turning to left around this barrel, then to barrel number 1, turning to the right, then to barrel number 3, turning again to the right, followed by the final sprint to the finish line.

(f) Knocking over a barrel carries a five-second penalty. Failure to follow the course shall cause disqualification. A contestant may touch the barrel with his or her hands in barrel racing.

(g) A five second penalty will be assessed if the hat or helmet is not on the exhibitor's person for the entire time the exhibitor is in the arena in barrel racing.

(h) The judge must disqualify any contestant for excessive use of a whip, rope, crop, bat or reins anywhere on the horse.

(i) If a tie occurs where points are involved, placing will be worked off if all tied exhibitors agree to participate in a run-off, if not, a coin toss will be used to separate the ties. The horse declared the winner in the runoff must rerun the pattern within two seconds of its original time or the runoff must be held again. Penalty time will not apply to the two-second rule but will apply to the final runoff time.

Examples of English Barrel Racing:
Photo Credit:

English Barrel Racing

LW Sunshot shown as a Chestnut, grade gelding and is a Breyer warmblood jumper. Shown by Linda Westphal.


Required Tack:
English Gymkhana Tack

Hunt Seat Tack:
Bridles – English snaffle (no shank), Pelham (with two or four reins), Kimberwicke and/or full bridle with plain brow bands are required.
Saddles – English or forward seat skirted hunting saddles must be used. They may have suede and/or suede insert on skirt and either cloth or leather lining. Girth may be leather, web, cord or linen. Hunting Breastplate is optional.

Saddle Seat:
Bridles – Full bridles preferred. Weymouth, Kimberwicke or Pelham bits are acceptable when used with double reins.
Saddles – English flat saddles are required. Saddles may be of show, cut back, or Park type. Forward seat, flat saddles with knee rolls, and western saddles are prohibited.

Leg protection commonly seen.

English Attire
Hunt Seat Attire:
A. Riders must wear boots, breeches, coat, and hunt cap
B. A hunt hardhat cap or a hardhat derby is acceptable. All colors are acceptable with preference for traditional conservative colors. Hunt caps or helmets for children.
C. Coats acceptable but Gymkhana is less strict and shortsleeve or cross country style clothing is allowed.
D. High English boots or jodhpurs and jodhpur or paddock boots
E. Long or short sleeve shirts with ties or chokers are preferred. Choker pins are acceptable.
F. Gloves are optional.

Saddle Seat Attire:
Formal or informal saddle suits are acceptable but rider may ride without the coat. Ties and gloves are optional.
A. Informal—Conservative solid colors are acceptable. Solid colors include: black, blue, gray, green, beige or brown with matching jodhpurs (white jacket in season) and derby or soft hat.
B. Formal—Solid colors are: dark gray, dark brown, dark blue, or black tuxedo-type jacket with collar and lapels of the same color, top hat, jodhpurs to match and gloves or dark colored riding habit and accessories. All colors acceptable, but preference is for traditional, conservative colors.

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Updated: January 13, 2013