The Barrel Race

The air is full of the smells of a rodeo, of excited horses and nervous cattle. The stands are packed with fans from all over who have come to enjoy the rodeo. You look at the sky, hoping it won’t rain. The air is heavy, there’s no breeze to relieve the heat. The people around you talk excitedly, waiting for the event to begin. The smell of popcorn makes you feel hungry. Children of all ages run along the fence, yelling and laughing. A little boy walks by, twirling his lasso, hoping one day to be one of the cowboys competing in the rodeo. Everywhere you look there are cowboy hats, some old and worn, others brand new. Everyone wants to get into the spirit of the rodeo. Behind you, someone is talking about the quality of the cattle and the abilities of the horses. On the other side of the arena, cows bawl. Then, the large crowd becomes quiet.


The cowgirl and her horse


Coming around the barrel

You lean forward on the rough fence as the horse and rider enter the arena. This is your favorite event, the barrel race. The rider keeps her huge, bay horse facing the rail. The horse lets out a shrill, impatient whinny. You can feel his excitement as he dances across the short end of the oval arena. He prances, lifting his dark legs high, his muscled neck arched beautifully, looking over his shoulder excitedly toward the barrels that he’s about to race around. The cowgirl seems calm, one with her horse. She sits neat and tall in the saddle, waiting for the perfect moment. Then, as the audience waits, without warning, the cowgirl allows her horse to whip around toward three rusty barrels that have been arranged in a cloverleaf shape. They have spent years training for this moment. She leans forward over her horse’s neck as he shoots toward the first barrel like he’s been shot from a cannon. You can see his powerful muscles working as he slows slightly to round the barrel. His sleek red coat shines in the light of the arena. A cloud of dust flies into the air as he plants his back feet, throwing his front feet forward, barely missing the barrel. He is concentrating so hard that his expression is almost comical. He holds his head high, his tongue hanging out as he wraps his body around the barrel, almost touching it. The cowgirl’s expression is more serious, showing deep concentration. She doesn’t want to knock over a barrel.


Heading for the first barrel


Running around the barrels


Launching forward as if he's been shot from a cannon

The audience cheers the team onward as they head for the next barrel. When the horse comes around the barrel, everyone holds their breath as the cowgirl accidentally kicks it. Will it fall? You wait as it rocks for a second, then, let out your breath in relief as the barrel settles without falling.


Racing forward to the next barrel


Coming around the second barrel


Almost took out the barrel

You can hear the horse’s hooves pounding like thunder on the freshly tilled ground as he heads for the final barrel. He’s breathing hard; his beautiful coat is wet with sweat. He knows this is the last barrel. He’s ready to run. He rounds the barrel perfectly and as he heads for the finish line the horse’s body explodes forward. The announcer encourages the audience to “bring them home” and everyone screams. You can hear the cowgirl yelling, urging her horse to give that last burst of speed. He stretches his body out in long, graceful strides, his black mane and tail flying behind him. The cowgirl rises out of the saddle slightly, allowing her horse to move more freely. The girl’s hair flies away from her face and she nearly loses her hat. The crowd rises to their feet and cheers as the team crosses the finish line and the announcer tells the audience excitedly that this has been the best ride of the night.


''He rounds the barrel perfectly...''


So much power


'' he heads for the finish line the horse’s body explodes forward.''

As the dust begins to settle, the cowgirl leans forward to give her horse a well-earned pat on the neck. She whispers something in his ear, probably telling him how much she loves him; the horse knickers a response. They slow to a trot, both pleased with their accomplishments. The horse throws his head up in pure joy, making his mane fly. They have completed this race in about sixteen seconds, a very good time. As the pair leaves the arena, the audience resumes their excited chatter, this time, discussing the race. You hear one little girl announce to her mom, “I wanna do that!”


A great pair


The race for home

I wrote this for a composition class a few years ago, but wanted to share it along with some pictures from this year’s rodeo.


Wrapping his body around the barrel


One response to “The Barrel Race

  1. I thought this essay was excellent when you wrote it for your class, and I still think so. The photos from this year’s rodeo just support the picture created by the words. 🙂

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s