Sunday, April 6

Barrel Racing and Pole Bending Clinic to Cultivate Skills

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

With rodeo season fast approaching, young barrel racers and pole benders will have an opportunity to fine-tune their preparations by participating in a clinic to be held in Fort Qu'Appelle on March 22 and 23.

The clinic, hosted by Clearview Stables, will be led by Kelley Byrne, a professional rider, with the assistance of Gloria Kadlec, who serves on the boards of the Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association and the Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association.

Although barrel racing is an event familiar to rodeo patrons, pole bending is restricted to high school and collegiate rodeos. The course setup has six poles spaced 21 feet apart. Like barrel racing, it is a timed event that begins with a sprint to the end, then a turnaround to weave through the poles, turn 180 degrees, another weaving sequence, ending with a final sprint to the timer line. Time penalties are applied for knocking over a pole.

Good horsemanship is the foundation of both barrel racing and pole bending. The clinic will develop the participants' horsemanship skills to facilitate agile movements. "The next level is to make a proper turn to come in and out of a barrel. The same goes for the poles, to get the horse to move off their legs without having a whole lot of face contact," Kadlec said.

Training and skill development are beneficial to a rider's success, but so are the unique characteristics of the horse. Speed and the ability to make a quick turn on its haunches are important. "You also want a horse that's going to listen and not fight with you," Kadlec noted, adding that the most successful barrel racing horses are level-headed.

The participants in the clinic are most likely to be teenagers. Racers typically start out during their teen years, although the activity certainly appeals to all ages. According to Kadlec, adults also attend clinics, but they are more likely to seek training in basic horsemanship clinics before progressing to a racing clinic. "You have to have horsemanship to be able to compete at that faster level," she stated.

Barrel racing also accommodates horses of varying age. Four and five year-old horses compete in futurity events, while top competitive horses range in age from 10 to 15 years.

Those who attend the Fort Qu'Appelle clinic will really benefit from the wisdom of an experienced professional like Kelley Byrne, Kadlec says. Byrne rides with the Canadian Professional Rodeo

Association and the Canadian Cowboys' Association circuit. She is also involved with the

Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association, hosting and attending many jackpots around the province.

Anyone interested in participating in the two-day event should contact Gloria Kadlec or Kevin Smith at Clearview Stables. Stalls are available to board the horses overnight, and lunch will be provided. The cost to attend will be $150 to $200, depending on the level of participation.

For more information, contact:
Gloria Kadlec, Assistant Clinician
Phone: (306) 567-4295

Kevin Smith, Barn Manager
Clearview Stables
Phone: (306) 332-1332
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