The Best Horse for Barrel Racing

best horse for barrel racing

Barrel racing is a western horse riding discipline involving completing a barrel pattern (cloverleaf pattern) in the fastest time. Quarter horses are the absolute best horse for barrel racing as they are the fastest horses over short distances. A good barrel horse needs to be able to reach high speeds from standing still and stop and turn on a dime. Good barrel racing horses have the drive to work and be athletically gifted to reach top speed in a couple of seconds and do tight turns fast. They are known to be one of the world’s most versatile horse as they can be used for many disciplines and equine sports. They are the most popular breed for shorter races such as the quarter mile race (where the breed got its name from). An appendix quarter horse is also a great ‘breed’ used for barrel racing, it is a mix between a first generation thoroughbred and quarter horse. The best horse breeds for barrel racing also include thoroughbred horses, Paint horses, Grade horses and the Arabian horse.

best horse for barrel racing
Photo: James Phifer

If you are looking at getting into barrel racing and looking for a good barrel prospect, then prospects breeding is an important aspect to look at but not the only thing to keep in mind. The horse’s personality is as important as the horse’s athletic ability. Barrel racers needs to be eager to work and love its job as it requires so much energy going from start to stop multiple times in a race hence it requires trainable temperaments. The ideal horse should also have sound conformation, good legs with powerful hindquarters 

Barrel Racing horse Facts

  • Average height: 14-16hh (142-163cm) 
  • Top Speed: 55mph (88.5km/h) (at full speed)
  • Breed: American Quarter Horse
  • Fastest Time: The fastest time that we could find records of it Hailey Kinsel’s 13.11 seconds at the National Finals Rodeo. 

Famous Barrel Racing Riders

best horse for barrel racing - Hailey Kinsel
Photo: Cowgirl Magazine

Hailey Kinsel is a world champion barrel racer in United States and is known for her amazing quarter horse mare DM Sissy Hayday aka ‘Sister’. Sister is a Palomino American Quarter Horse mare that she bought as a 2 year old barrel horse prospect. Hailey didn’t realise she would be a winning barrel racer until a few years later as they did go through some challenges in their training. But the horse’s athleticism eventually proved to be enough to compete of high level. Sister’s has become an incredible money earner as she has earned Hailey over $1,000,000 in winnings over the last few years. Hailey’s career started taking off in 2017 after she qualified for the RFD-TV’s The American and ended up splitting a $1 million side pot with 2 other competitors.

The women’s professional rodeo association announced in 2019 that Hailey was ranked No 1 after her Rd 7 win in the 2019 Wrangler NFR (her time was 13.60 seconds).

Hailey is still very humble and down to earth and spends her days trail riding with her mom at the ranch during off season.

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