Barrel racing and western fashion

Pictured: Sarah Pawsey riding Alfie, photographed by George Parish.

Barrel racing is a popular rodeo event in the USA. Believed to have originated in Texas, it began as a women’s sport where horse and rider would race against the clock in a figure-eight pattern around barrels.  It then changed to the current more challenging clover leaf pattern.  The first professional competitions started in 1948 with the formation of the Girls Rodeo Association, which in 1981 changed it’s name to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. Nowadays, the best barrel racers can earn as much as $67,000 in annual winnings! In addition to this, they will earn more through sponsorship and brand ambassador deals with associated brands, plus coaching packages.

Today, barrel racing is held at most rodeos and although at a professional level it remains to be mainly a women’s sport, men and children also partake in the racing at amateur levels.  It showcases the athletic ability and intelligence of the horse – typically a quarter horse, and the horsemanship of the rider in an exhilarating test of speed and agility. The sport also celebrates western fashion, with both horse and rider dressed up for the occasion. Colourful western shirts, sequins, cowboy boots, hats and a good dose of turquoise are all regulars in barrel racing fashion.

Although a deep-rooted American sport, it seems the western ‘dare-devil’ spirit is rubbing off on us Brits!  


Home of the UK Barrel Horse Association, 4 Strides Equestrian UK Ltd. is working with other barrel horse associations worldwide to develop barrel racing in the UK. And it’s getting increasingly popular! With over 1500 followers on their Facebook page alone, 4 Strides Equestrian has quite the community of barrel racing fans from across the UK.  I’m thrilled to announce that Melbelle is now one of the official sponsors of 4 Strides Equestrian.

Find out more:

4 Strides Equestrian website

4 Strides Equestrian Facebook page

4 Strides Equestrian Instagram account

Pictured: Nikki Cade riding Bobby, photographed by George Parish.


4 Strides equestrian run competitions and clinics (typically a clinic in the morning followed by a competition later in the day) regularly across Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire. They also host an annual Barrel Camp with training sessions, camping (for horse and rider), evening entertainment and of course, camp fires.

See upcoming clinics and competitions

Pictured: Scarlett Exley riding Brigg, photographed by George Parish.


Sally is the lady behind 4 Strides Equestrian and is passionate about increasing the following for this sport in the UK.


The fastest time ever recorded in a barrel racing competition belongs to Carlee Pierce and her horse Dillon, at just 13.46 seconds. They achieved this incredible time at the National Finals Rodeo in 2011.  For comparison, an average time is 15-30 seconds.


Barrel racing and rodeo fashion is a very unique and colourful affair! The staple is denim, with flared jeans being a particularly popular choice among spectators. These are then typically paired with either a western-style graphic tee or a colourful western shirt, a cowboy hat, western boots, a good dose of turquoise jewellery and either a denim jacket or fringe jacket to complete the outfit.

American barrel racer and entrepreneur Fallon Taylor (pictured) is known for her amazing outfits, so much so that she launched her own range Ranch Dress’n.

Visit Fallon’s Website

Visit Ranch Dress’n Online Shop

Pictured: Mark Dame riding Lexy, photographed by George Parish.