A love for barrel racing

Hope Quinn and her horse Rio practicing barrel racing. Photo courtesy of Quinn.

Amongst the loud, rowdy crowd at a rodeo, a rider’s mind is set solely on speed. Nothing else is there except the horse and the barrels. While the stands watch in anticipation, their adrenaline pumps and blood rushes just as much as the rider. The passion in the eyes of both the rider, and the eager racehorse, burn like a blazing fire as they bolt together, like one unit, through the arena.

Hope Quinn, sophomore at Western Carolina University, has always felt this burning passion for riding horses, and she now feels it even more for barrel racing. Barrel racing is a rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a clover-leaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time. Quinn just began competing in this event a little over a year ago. She has ridden horses at her home all of her life, but barrel racing always seemed to put a sparkle in her eye because of the thrill.

When the opportunity to barrel race finally came to Quinn, it was love at first sight. She got the opportunity by meeting her trainer, Susie Justice, at a local rodeo. What she enjoys the most about barrel racing is training her horse, Rio. Rio is an 8-years-old, liver chestnut Quarter horse.

“Being able to take a horse that has no previous experience and watch her grow and learn with me is the best feeling in the world,” said Quinn.

Quinn is a very optimistic rider, not letting her own rookie mistakes and failures stand in the way of success.

“I try to look at every ride, whether good or bad, as a learning experience. Personally, I have learned so much from all of the “bad” days that I don’t really consider them bad,” said Quinn. Quinn and Rio practice together at least four times each week.

Quinn has been to five Barrel Racing Exhibitions, where both she and her horse have increasingly progressed each time according to her scores. She is very proud of her horse and is excited about what the future will hold for the two of them in barrel racing.

There is no turning back after finding the love of a sport that is endlessly satisfying.  Horseback riders are taught throughout life that when you fall, you simply get back up again.  Quinn has lived by this rule her entire life, and is now incorporating it with her barrel racing.

Quinn is a member of the Equestrian Club at WCU. Although the team does not participate in barrel racing, they compete in Hunt Seat and Western competitions. The team practices at their coach’s farm in Waynesville, NC. Experience with horses or owning a horse is not a requirement in order to join the club or team. The competitions offer classes from beginner to open.

More information can be found by contacting Heather Crawford, at hccrawford1@catamount.wcu.edu.