The Cowgirl and the Horse Make Up a Winning Team
Photo Credit: Marty Welter @ Rodeoflicks.com
Three barrels, one horse, a cowgirl, and a stopwatch! In the extreme sport of rodeo, these are the essential ingredients that make up barrel racing. Unlike other rodeo events, there are no judges that help determine the cowgirl’s score. The cowgirl and her horse create their destiny working in unison to accomplish a solid ride. Hesitation is not an option; you must ride fast to win!
Barrel racing is a timed horse race in which the cowgirl rides her horse in a clover pattern around three barrels. Her goal is to avoid knocking a barrel over while completing the pattern as quickly as possible. The clock starts as the cowgirl enters the arena and crosses the starting line. As soon as the cowgirl completes the third barrel, she then guns it to the start line to stop the clock. Cowgirls are not penalized for tipping a barrel as long as the barrel remains standing upright. Should they knock a barrel over, a five second penalty is added to their time. Cowboys are not the only ones in the sport of rodeo who have a tough job; these little ladies are tough, but they perform with grace and precision!
While visiting the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo in Louisville, Kentucky, we had the privilege of catching up with barrel racer Natalie Foutch, who was representing her hometown of Eldora, Iowa. Natalie was able to come out on top winning the average in the barrel racing competition at the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo in early November, where she officially punched her ticket to Kissimmee and a chance to compete at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in April 2016. This is her second year of qualifying to compete at the RNCFR. Way to go Natalie! Let’s just say her kiddos are extremely proud of her, and excited to be heading to Florida! Can you tell?
After meeting Natalie, we could immediately see her passion for her sport and the deep love she has for her horses. She told us she’s been around horses her whole life since her parents were involved in horse shows. Natalie broke out in barrel racing in college and then went on to ride amateur. Once she got involved in barrel racing, she never looked back. She told us, “The connection I have with my horse is like no other! There is no better feeling in the world than when you and your horse click to have that perfect run. We establish a bond and work hard as a team.”
Barrel racers spend countless hours practicing and invest lots of money in trying to perfect their craft. The cost of a good barrel horse can start around $50,000, and goes up from there. Each barrel racer has their own unique tricks on how they choose to practice, keep the horses and themselves in shape, and continue improving their craft. Natalie told us her horse, Orville, eats and sleeps before she does. “Orville gets massages, baths, treats, and I walk him regularly.”
When you aren’t competing, it’s good to let the horses rest and recover from competition and travel. Traveling can take a toll on horses just as it can humans. To help take care of herself before a rodeo, Natalie visits the Justin Sports Medicine trainers to help improve her stretching. They also teach her new techniques she can implement into her practices to improve posture and the issue of having a sore neck. Shout out to the Justin Sports Medicine teams out there, you truly do a great job taking care of our rodeo athletes!
“When the hat goes on and I get mounted, it’s all focus from there,” said Natalie. She recommended that new barrel racers take deep breaths, pick your points, and always be aggressive. I’d say these tricks work well for Natalie considering she rides back into Kissimmee this spring.
We are excited to see you back in Kissimmee, Natalie, and as always, we wish all the cowgirls the best of luck in barrel racing!
From under the hat, a quote from Natalie:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13