Carlie Bowditch, 13, makes her way around a barrel during a practice run at the exhibition grounds on Tuesday. Moose Jaw is hosting the Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association provincial finals with close to 500 entries from throughout Western Canada taking part in the event. Colin Dewar photograph
Dust was flying at the Golden Mile Arena in at the exhibition grounds on Tuesday as barrel racers from across the prairie provinces ran through their practice runs.
Starting today, Moose Jaw will be hosting the Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association (SBRA) provincial finals.
Riders were at the grounds early to run warm up drills and make sure the horses were familiar with the arena.
"A new arena can be scary for horses," said Priscilla Tames, president of the SBRA. "Every arena has different signs on the boards and barrels that the horses need to get used to."
The three-day event will see 488 entries from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
The competition uses the three division system.
"The format works well allowing all riders, regardless of ability, to run in the same 3D barrel race," said Tames. "Everyone has an opportunity to compete and win."
Three divisions are determined by one second time brackets.
Riders with the fastest times are placed in the first division and competitors who run one second slower than the overall fastest time are placed in the second division. Those two seconds or slower than first are placed in the third division.
On Friday, the top 60 riders from each division will compete on the course and the winner and prizes will be announced around 4 p.m.
The competition has four age groups: pee wee for riders eight and under, youth for riders 16 and under, an open division and a select division for competitors aged 50 plus. So far, there are 40 entries in the Select division at this year's competition.
The SBRA finals are held indoors so as not to be affected by weather conditions unlike rodeo barrel racers.
"There is a difference between rodeo riders and jackpot riders," said Tames. "Rodeo riders face all the elements, like the hot sun, rain or mud. Jackpot riders need to be indoors to have consistent grounds. That way it is fair and everyone has the same chance."
During competition, a rider who knocks over a barrel will have five seconds placed on their time.
"It doesn't make it impossible for them to win, but they have to be careful the next day when they ride," said Tames.
Tames said spectators will have a great time watching the event.
"It gets very exciting," said Tames. "It's anybody's game by Friday. You never know who is going to win and it can come down to the last second."
Colin Dewar can be reached at 691-1263