HOUSTON - Speed is the name of the game in barrel racing, and that is just the way the rodeo gals like it.
"It is such an adrenaline rush. It is just you and one horse, and the fastest time wins," said P.J. Burger, the daughter-in-law to the 2006 world championship barrel racer, Mary Burger.
For the Burgers, the rodeo truly is a family affair. Mr. Burger Sr. puts shoes on horses for the equine athletes on the road from show to show. The two Burger women often travel together with P.J. Burger's 5-year-old daughter in tow.
In an event that relies so much on the horse's ability to be not just fast but to also go where a rider wants when a rider wants it, a woman's touch is often just the thing needs to get the job done. While it is a fast event, that doesn't mean it is always that simple.
"It's humbling and humiliating at times just trying to get the horse to work with you, and then you have that it is so fast," HLSR Barrel Racer Benette Little said.
When it comes to the barrels, speed is the name of the game, and that is something the women said makes even the men stop and stare.
"Even the team ropers pay attention. You don't think they do, but they do," HLSR Barrel Racer Cassie Moseley said.
So, just what is it like to be constantly surrounded by all of those good ole country men? Moseley said it can be intimidating, and Little said the up side to all that testosterone.
"There is always someone to help you change a tire and carry a water bucket, and you feel pretty safe," Little said.
As P.J. Burger put it, they are just cowboys. That means instead of a handshake you get a hug.
Most barrel racers have been riding since they were girls. At the lower level, they compete in all of the events, but once a woman goes pro, there is only one event on the ticket.
Barrel star Lisa Lockhart said she just takes it as the cost of doing business at this level of rodeo, but others, like P. J. Burger and Little, would have chosen the fast-paced barrel runs over the other events anyway.
It may be a women's-only event, but when it comes to the watching, Lockhart points out it has something for everybody.
"I think people in the audience, whether it be men or women, enjoy watching. It is all part of the show," said Lockhart
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