Barrel racers compete

By Alexa Brackin

Barrel racers from around the state of Texas made their way to the 23rd annual American Novice Horse Association ShootOut barrel race at the Extraco Events Center Pavilion in Waco this past weekend.

Kelsey Chesson of DeQuincy, La., took the title in the barrel-racing category and Lynnsi Pollock of Utopia had the fastest time in the pole-bending category.

“The win took a lot of preparation with my horse and making sure he was in the best shape possible,” Pollock said.

Chesson won a pot of $1,112, a custom saddle and buckle printed with the name and date of the event.

Her winning time was 16.796 seconds, beating her second-place competitor by 0.146 seconds.

As winner of the pole-bending category, Pollock won $543 and a saddle and buckle.

Her time was 19.581 seconds, 0.329 seconds faster than the runner-up.

“I plan on putting the winnings back into training my horses,” Pollock said. “I have quite a few others that I am working with right now.”

Barrel racing is a timed event in which contestants have to make a clover pattern around three barrels as fast as possible.

Pole bending is also a timed event in which contestants have to weave in and out of six poles. Both events test the ability of both the horse and the rider.

Pollock competed in pole bending as well as barrel racing on her horse Hezaneasybug, while Chesson won the barrel-racing category on her horse TWBee Ginnin.

“My horse is very important to my success. Number one for sure,” Pollock said. “I have had him for 13 years, so we know each other really well. It is critical that you and your horse are a good match. You have to be able to read each other’s minds.”

Steve and Kathy Thornton founded the ANHA ShootOut, which is an event open to all amateur barrel racers and amateur horses.

“Back in the 1990s, there weren’t any nice big barrel races for beginner riders or horses, the only options were big rodeos,” Kathy Thornton said. “We started this event so that those people who weren’t there yet had a place to showcase their talent.”

Each category, pole bending and barrel racing, was broken down into five divisions, with everyone competing in the two qualifying rounds.

If a contestant’s cowboy hat falls off during a run, there is a $10 fine, which, if not paid, leads to the rider’s time being scratched.

The 15 contestants from all divisions with the fastest times from each qualifying round went onto the third and final shoot-out round.

These final 30 contestants competed for the five payout spots in the final round.