A large contingent of local barrel racers was in Brandon, Man., for the recent Manitoba Barrel Racing Association finals, and a couple of them came home with saddles for having great results.
Brenda Noble won a saddle for finishing first in the 3D select division, which is for competitors who are at least 50 years of age. Rhonda Gillespie won a saddle in the 4D open event.
Also competing were Cecile Anderson, Lindsay Collins, Cayla Doan, Torie Froese, Kelsey Hirsch, Bailey Holzer, Rhonda Knight, Paula Mohagen-Derby, Val Paulson, Caron Pingert, Kathleen Schiml and Jessica Schiml in the open division, and Jenna Emmel in the youth event.
A total of 361 riders were entered in the open draw, along with 121 in the youth division and 80 in the peewee division. Many of the riders from the select division were also in the open event.
Each had multiple runs during the weekend to qualify for the final. In the 3D Select, riders were organized into flights using one-second intervals. The winning time in select was 14:08, so all horses within a second of that time were in 1D, all riders one to two seconds off that time were in 2D, and those within two to three seconds were in 3D. Noble had the fastest time in 3D at 16.155 seconds aboard her horse, ABit of a Playgirl.
“It was a surprise. I didn’t know I had won a saddle,” said Noble.
Gillespie, meanwhile, described the MBRA as a marathon in 3 1/2 days. In the case of the open division, she raced on the first two days, and then had the final go on Sunday. In the open, the first three flights are separated by only half a second each, and then there is a full second separating the 3D from the 4D.
Gillespie had a time of 15.617 aboard Sabre Tivio.
“I am happy with how I did,” said Gillespie. “My horse and I have been struggling a little bit since July, so I was going in with just wanting to have two good runs. I’ve never made it back to the short go, and I’ve been barrel racing for a few years.”
In previous years Gillespie has had two really good runs but never made it back to the short go, and has, at other times, made money despite a bad run.
“Your horse can be in the best shape and be running the best it possibly can, and in the end the luck of the draw is how you make it back to the short go,” said Gillespie.
Noble says barrel racing is an “exhilarating” experience, thanks to the speed and the horsemanship required to do everything quickly.
“It’s good teamwork with your horse,” said Noble. “You learn to be a team, because you only have 14 to 16 seconds to do the run.”
Noble has been going to a lot of barrel racing events throughout Saskatchewan and Manitoba this year, and both she and her horse are still healthy, which is great, she said. To qualify for the finals, she had to race in Manitoba three times as well as events in Saskatchewan.
The level of competition was excellent, Noble said, with all of the riders in the different age groups gunning for a saddle. She was pleased to see so many younger competitors entered.
Gillespie is no stranger to equine events, as barrel racing isn’t the only sport she competes in with her horse. It means her horse has a slightly longer season.
“Keeping them sound is just like any other athlete. You do what you can to make them comfortable and stuff like that, and when the aches and pains start showing up, they start showing up in your runs.”
Barrel racing is a great social outing, Gillespie said, and she has some good friends who are involved in it. They started doing it to have fun and do something with their horses, and it’s a bonus when they can put some prize money in their pockets.
“We have really, really good hosts who invite us to their place to compete at their place on weekends,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie praised the 3D and 4D formats as well, because it means they don’t have to have the fastest horse out there. It keeps everyone entered and having fun.