Gene Autry Roping Club

At my very first rodeo, we sat in a 104 degree August Oklahoma evening, but the dry heat didn’t matter. You see, Jim and I were attending a barrel racing playday in Gene Autry, Oklahoma. The town, Autry, honors the Singing Cowboy movie star. These days, popular culture remembers him for singing “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.” The community boasts a Gene Autry museum with western movie memorabilia, but today we were enjoying the local rodeo arena. Local friends and family participated in this community event, sponsored by the Gene Autry Roping Club. All ages competed. Parents led horses bearing the very youngest competitors gently around the barrels. The local audience cheered every effort with generous support and good-natured teasing.

Warm up and race

In the first order of business, horses and riders warmed up like any other athletes. After the participants and horses were warmed-up, the race began with horse and rider tearing out the alley and into the arena

How barrel racing is done

What was the objective? Running around three barrels in a clover leaf pattern. First, the riders directed their horses in a figure eight around the first two barrels. Then, horse and rider looped around the third. After the horse and rider made their final loop, they tore back down the straightaway. To be sure, these maneuvers required agility, strength, speed, and control and above all training and practice.

Should a horse knock over a barrel, officials would add a five second penalty to this timed event. An electronic timer tracked the race.

Flag races too

Additionally, the rodeo also featured a flag race competition. This event involved placing a flag in a coffee can on top of a barrel at the end of the arena. Riders retrieved the flag by circling the barrel and grabbing the flag, carrying it past the timer at the opposite end of arena.

Having fun and building skills


The Rodeo offered casual, low- stress competitions. Therefore, the older riders demonstrated their respective skills, while the youngsters enjoyed practical learning opportunities. Enthusiastic coaching and encouragement was called out from the stands. The oldest competitor, a skilled man with white hair, achieved the best time of the evening, 17 seconds!

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