Secor races with barrels and horses

Kali Ray, Reporter

Cara Secor, freshman, spends her free time competing in a dangerous, little known sport called barrel racing.

Barrel racing is a horse-riding sport; the rider takes the horse through a pattern of 3 barrels as fast as she can, attempting to cross the finish line in less than 40 seconds.

Secor has competed in barrel racing for three to four years now, although she’s been riding horses for much longer.

“I’ve loved riding horses my entire life,” Secor said.

One day, while trying out different forms of riding, Secor discovered barrel racing.

“We did a little barrel pattern and I thought, ‘holy crap, this is awesome,’” Secor said. “The next day, we tried it again at a trot, and I just haven’t stopped since.”

There are dangers to the sport though. At one practice, Secor broke her foot.

“I broke my foot when we were doing a practice run,” Secor said.

“I hit my foot on a barrel, and then the horse stepped on my foot. It shattered almost completely,” Secor recalled.

Secor was unable to ride for two months, and then had to start slowly.

“I could only do simple stuff, like walking in circles,” Secor said.

However, she still loves the sport and the injury has not stopped her.

“It’s a great way to participate with a horse because you’re moving with the horse to get around the barrels,” Secor explained.

Although Secor started years ago, she says it’s not too late for anyone to start.

“[There’s] no age where you cannot ride,” Secor said. “My instructor says he will teach anyone from age 4 to 84.”

Secor has four horses she rides: Thunder, who is 21 years old; Gizmo, 9; and Molly and Daisy who are both 3.

Secor rides at Osage Oak, where they are already preparing for the next competition.

It’s a competition just for those at the barn in December.

“I’ve already fallen off twice trying to get ready for it,” Secor said.

At her last competition, Secor placed fifth.

Though she’s just begun to look at colleges, Secor plans to continue riding through her college education.

There are three levels to barrel racing: beginner, intermediate, and expert.

Secor is currently at the intermediate level.

“As a beginner you walk the patterns and practice turning. Simple stuff really,” Secor explained.

Secor has many stories of barrel racing.

Once, during a warm up on the trails before practice, Secor and her riding companions came across four wild turkeys.

“It caused my friend to fall off, and then my instructor fell because of her falling off,” Secor said. “At the end [of the trail], out of the five of us, only two of us came back on our horses.”

In barrel racing, the barrels are typically in a triangle in the middle of the arena, known as a cloverleaf pattern.

While both men and women compete in the sport, it is primarily a rodeo event for women.

Barrel racing is meant to test the athletic ability of the horse and the horsemanship of the rider.