5 Best Breed Of Horse For Barrel Racing

Every breed of horse has qualities that make it suitable for specific disciplines, but here we’ll look at the best breed of horse for barrel racing. When asking this question, the most obvious answer is the American Quarter Horse. However, the breed isn’t the only factor that goes into making a good barrel horse.

What Is Barrel Racing

Barrel racing is a western riding event where riders gallop a pattern around strategically placed barrels. It is an event often held at western shows and rodeos. Barrel racing follows a pre-set route around a triangle pattern of barrels in an arena.

To win, the rider and horse must produce the fastest time without knocking over a barrel. Riders enter the arena from the in-gate, otherwise called the alleyway at speed. They follow a clover pattern around the barrels and gallop back out of the arena.

Qualities A Barrel Racing Horse Must Have

The breed is only one part of a good barrel racing horse. More importantly, are the qualities the individual horse possesses. The first quality is speed, you want a fast horse. The horse must have athleticism, agility, and explosive acceleration.

It also needs the ability to turn quickly and use as little space as possible to make this turn. Because barrel racing requires intense athletic performance, the horse must have good confirmation. It must be sound as this event puts a lot of stress on the joints in the legs.

Best Barrel Racing Horses

1. American Quarter Horse

It is easy to say that the best breed of horse for barrel racing is the Quarter Horse. When you look at the top levels of barrel racing competitions, the majority of horses here are Quarter Horses that come from lines bred for this event.

Despite more commonly found in midwestern and western states, the Quarter Horse actually originated from the eastern United States. The early Quarter Horses were bred for racing, and the breed is still known for its ability to cover a quarter-mile at incredible speed; hence the name! The Quarter Horse is the fastest horse over a straight, sprint distance. It can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. 

American Quarter Horse - Barrel Racing

While the breed still races, it is now more commonly associated with ranching activities. Today there are over 3-million Quarter Horses around the world, most located in the United States. The American Quarter Horse Association recognizes 16 colors in its registry.

The bred is popular for its good temperament, trainability, and its ability to turn its hoof at just about any job. Most Quarter Horses stand between 14 to 16 hands tall. This and the breed’s ability for speed are why it is considered the best breed of horses for barrel racing.

2. Appendix Quarter Horse

The Appendix Quarter Horse is an offshoot of the pure Quarter Horse. This horse is a cross between a Thoroughbred and a Quarter Horse. The breed registry began accepting this cross in 1949

Just like a pure Quarter Horse, the Appendix is very versatile. It combines the speed and athletic abilities of both breeds. These horses can reach over 16-hands, making them a good option for a taller barrel racing rider.

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3. Thoroughbred Barrel Racing Horse Breed

Another obvious choice for barrel racing is the Thoroughbred. The Thoroughbred can galloping long distances at speed. They are athletic and have a good work ethic.

However, their achievements are often overlooked outside of racing. The confirmation of the thoroughbred is not always suitable for barrel racing, since they are bred for distance running. However, if they have the right physical and mental characteristics, they can keep up with their Quarter Horse counterparts.

4. Paint Horse 

ThePaint Horse shares some of its lineages with the Quarter Horse. In fact, many Paints join both the American Quarter Horse Association and the American Paint Horse Association registries.

The bred has an excellent temperament and intelligence. It is strong, athletic, and fast. Confirmation and size-wise, the Paint is similar to a Quarter Horse. The Paint horse was first developed by the Native Americans, who felt their distinctive colored markings possessed magical powers.

Paint Horse - Barrel Racing

5. Appaloosa For Barrel Racing Horse

In addition to their unique and beautiful coats, the Appaloosa is a versatile horse that excels in many disciplines. Appaloosas have friendly personalities and range in height from 14.2 to 17-hands. The breed developed from the Russian Don and Spanish Conquistadors.

During the 19th-century, the breed was at risk of disappearing. To save the breed, the breeders used Quarter Horses. This gave the Appaloosa more speed and versatility. It is this blood that makes the Appaloosa one of the best breeds of horse for barrel racing.

Barrel Race Horses- Conclusion

While the clear winner for the best barrel racing breed is the Quarter Horse, it doesn’t exclude any horse. Look at the horse in front of you, if it has the right qualities to complete the job well, then it is good for barrel racing. Every breed has exceptions, and it is surprising where you see some breeds turn up.

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