COLUMBIA — Lines of RV trucks with horse trailers gathered at Central Missouri Events Center on North Oakland Gravel Road on April 12 to 14.
While kids in cowboy hats were running around the barrel race site with soda cups in their hands, the racers and their horses warmed up in a small barn next to the race field.
Horse riders joined the Missouri National Barrel Horse Association's Spring All District competition.
Headquartered in Augusta, Ga., the National Barrel Horse Association offers barrel racing opportunities for riders of all ages and levels of experience.
Barrel racing is different from other rodeo events because it involves three barrels. The judges count the time for a rider and a horse to complete a certain pattern while running around each barrel. If a competitor and a horse knock over a barrel, they are not qualified. A rider with the fastest time record wins the race.
There are district, state, national and world championship levels for NBHA competitions.
For Storme Camarillo, a horse rider since age 2, each race is a long process for her and her horse, Sharkey.
“It's like having an athlete, not only yourself to keep in shape but also your horse,” she said. “Sometimes it takes about 90 days to get a horse in shape. From there I ride him five days a week and at least an hour a day.”
As a professional competitor, Camarillo thinks NBHA all-district races can be a great opportunity for local riders of all ages.
“I'm actually in a professional rodeo next weekend, and NBHA provides me access to utilize my local area and get my horse ready for competition next week.”
Barrel racing has given her the opportunity to be "one of the few people that get to travel the world" because she competes in barrel races in a number of countries.
"Last week, I was in Australia," she smiled. “And about four months ago, I was in Brazil. I'll be in Canada in two weeks.”
She was born and raised on a ranch in Fairview, Ill., and she has been familiar with barrel racing her entire life.
“I love barrel racing,” she said. “I love the speed, I love the horses, and I love the people.”