What Is The Cloverleaf Barrel Racing Pattern?
The cloverleaf barrel racing pattern is the pattern, or order, in which a barrel racer must gallop their horse around three 55-gallon barrels during the barrel racing event.
The cloverleaf barrel racing pattern gets is name because the pattern is shaped like a cloverleaf, or triangle.
Note: There is also a straight barrel racing pattern in
which three 55-gallon barrels are set in a straight line, not a cloverleaf
However, the cloverleaf barrel pattern is more common, and if someone simply refers to a "barrel pattern" - without specifying cloverleaf or straight, they are likely referring to the cloverleaf pattern.
In the cloverleaf barrel racing pattern the rider has the choice of running a right-handed pattern (turning the right barrel first) or a left-handed pattern (turning the left barrel first).
The Right-Handed Barrel Racing Pattern
It is most common for barrel racers to run the right-handed barrel pattern. This is because most horses are naturally more athletic when working to their left. By taking the right barrel first the horse will have one right-hand turn (the first barrel), and two left-hand turns (the second and third barrels).
Below: This illustration shows the barrel racing pattern with the right barrel being turned first. This is the way the barrel racing pattern is most commonly ran.
The Left-Handed Barrel Racing Pattern
In the left-handed barrel pattern the horse and rider turn the left barrel first. It is less commonly ran than the right-hand pattern, but is still legal and not that unusual.
Below: This illustration shows shows the barrel racing pattern with the left barrel being turned first.
Breaking The Barrel Racing Pattern
If a barrel racer does not go around the barrels in the correct order, it is called "breaking the pattern" and results in a no time.
Knocking Over A Barrel
If a barrel racer hits a barrel during their run, but the barrel remains standing, there is no penalty.
However, if a barrel racer knocks a barrel down during their run, they will be assessed a 5 second penalty for each barrel knocked down.
About Barrel Racing
Barrel racing is a competitive event in which a horse and rider run a cloverleaf, aka triangular, pattern around three barrels. It is a timed event in which the fastest time wins.
Though most recognized as a sport competed in by women, depending on what (if any) governing body sanctions a barrel race the rider may be either male or female.
You can shop for barrel racing saddles here.
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