Barrel Racing is a rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around presetbarrels in the fastest time. Though both boys and girls compete at the youth level and men compete in some amateur venues and jackpots, in collegiate and professional ranks, it is primarily a rodeo event for women. It combines the horse's athletic ability and the horsemanship skills of a rider in order to safely and successfully maneuver a horse in a pattern around three barrels (typically three fifty-five gallon metal or plastic drums) placed in a triangle in the center of an arena.
In barrel racing, the fastest time wins. It is not judged under any subjective points of view, only the clock. Barrel racers in competition at the professional level must pay attention to detail while maneuvering at high speeds. Precise control is required to win. The rider is allowed to choose either the right or left barrel as their first barrel but must complete the correct pattern, allowing for turn changes depending on whether they are on the right or left lead. Running past a barrel and off the pattern will result in a "no time" score and disqualification. If a barrel racer or her horse hits a barrel and knocks it over there is a time penalty of five seconds, which usually will result in a time too slow to win. There is a sixty-second time limit to complete the course after time begins.