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DISCOVERING WHAT THE BARREL RACE REALLY IS : interview of an amazing American barrel racer!

Have you ever heard about barrel race ? It might be a famous sport in America, but it is less so internationally. In this way, I wanted to know more about this amazing sport which is basically, a rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to run a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrel in the fastest time. And for that, I decided to interview an amazing confirmed barrel racer, Danyelle Hovland! She grew up in Wisconsin, and rodeo has always been a part of her, it's a family thing. So if you want to know more about it, here it is...




To get started, tell me a little about you, how did you start barrel racing ? at what age?

I started seriously competing in barrel races when I was in high school and started professionally rodeoing when I was 19. I have been around horses my whole life, my grandpa barrel raced and my mom barrel races too. I kind of just grew up around it and knew it was something I wanted to do when I was older. I also think it’s super cool that I get to do it with my family.

Yeah, it seems like it is a sport which is passed down through generations, children are rocked in it from birth, a bit like you. Would you say that your family background influenced your choice?

Yes, I would say that I started because of my family background.

(Here is her mother and her grand father).


What would you say is the most exciting moment ?

It's the feeling of making a good run and knowing all of your hard work is paying off. So much time and effort goes into taking care of the horses and riding them everyday to keep them in their best condition, it is just super exciting when everything comes together.

Yes, the way you describe that feeling looks amazing. So, do you have a thing you do before every race ? Something like a lucky charm ?

Before every race I saddle my horse and get ready in the same order but as for a lucky charm I would say the closest thing would be my favorite lucky shirts! Lol I have a couple western shirts that I have won in or done well in that I like to wear if I’m at a big race or rodeo !

Haha, love the idea. Also, barrel racing isn't something really famous in France, but is it something famous in your country? would you say that it's part of the American culture?

I think it’s definitely more common in America than some other countries but I know it is also done in other countries for example, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil and probably many others. I would say it’s part of the western American culture !

Yeah, definitely. It is something anchored in western culture, and internationally, it can be part of the cliché of "the cowboy and the rodeo". However, I don't know a lot about how it works in America. What do you win during competition? Is there a state/national/international competition?

There are different associations that a person could join but essentially they are all similar. During the competitions you win money. Most of the different associations are state or regionally based and they have qualifiers for a finals for that region or state at the end of the year and then at that finals you can qualify for the national finals.

You could give us examples, by telling us what you won so far?

in 2017 I won the Wisconsin youth National Barrel Racing Association state finals. (Youth is a class at the barrel races that is age 18 and under).
I have also qualified for the Junior American Rodeo. (This is a rodeo for people ages 19 and under), and most recently I just qualified for the rfdtv the American rodeo semi finals.
Other than those I am a member of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). I compete in the Great Lakes region (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri). In this region there are rodeos throughout the whole year and we are competing to try to qualify for the Great Lakes Circuit finals, which is the top 12 in the circuit at the end of the year in each event. I have never qualified for the finals, but in my first year (rookie year which was last year) I was only a couple hundred dollars short. My mom has qualified for this finals 6 times.


This is amazing, especially at your age, it shows how motivated and devoted you are! I also love how it is a family thing and that's cool to see that rodeo is a good way to travel! So is barrel racer your job? Can you live entirely with it?

Well right now it is all I do, I’m in college also, I graduate in may. And when I graduate I will get a more “normal” job and compete as much as I can on the side! However, some people do it as their profession!

Okay! When would be the best time to see a rodeo in America ?

rodeos are all year long but the best time would probably be in the summer because that is when the majority are! However right now is kinda iffy because of the whole Covid thing this past summer a bunch of them got cancelled and are still being cancelled... I think last year I went to about 30 rodeos throughout the summer and this year I went to only 5 because the rest were cancelled.


Misconceptions about barrel race : true/false?


For the last question, I tried to find all the misconceptions or the questions that people didn't know about barrel race wondered. I need you to tell me if it is true or not.


Does barrel racing hurt horses ?

Barrel racing does not hurt horses, they are bred and born to be competition animals and most love their job!

Is barrel race really dangerous ?

Barrel racing can be very dangerous because ultimately you are riding a very strong animal with a mind of their own! Any freak accident can happen in a matter of seconds.

Is it only for girls ?

Barrel racing is not only for girls. Boys can also compete except in the Women’s professional rodeo association that I am in. That is only women.

Does the horse fall often?

Lastly, the horses don’t fall often, only sometimes if they trip or something happens out of the normal.

Thank you so much to Danyelle for taking time to answer my questions!

Frenchie amoureuse du monde