Moab resident Amber Wiggins competes at a past Racing in the Rockies event at the Old Spanish Trail Arena. [Photo by Luppes Photography / Courtesy of Racing in the Rockies]

Barrel racing on horseback tends to be a female sport, although more and more men are getting into it, said Terri Gold, producer of Racing in the Rockies, a barrel race event that will take place in Moab on Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2. Participation in the sport also tends to run in the family.

“Oftentimes, there will be three generations competing against one another,” Gold said. “Oftentimes, you’ll see grandma, mom and granddaughter competing.”

There are different divisions, as well an open race where all ages compete at the same time. There is no age limit to participate.

“We have 3- to 4-year-olds competing in the peewee class, and gals well into their 70s,” Gold said. “A lot of them come from ranching families.”

Moab resident Amber Wiggins travels to multiple barrel races each year, so she’s glad whenever a competition comes to town where she can ride her horse in a local race.

In barrel racing, riders vie to be the fastest to navigate around three barrels placed in a cloverleaf pattern. Wiggins likens the adrenaline rush of racing around the obstacles on horseback to that of parachuting out of an airplane.

The western Colorado-based Racing in the Rockies event will take place at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191. The event is free for spectators.

Wiggins said it takes her horse about 16 seconds to make it around the barrels. She’s seen other riders complete the course in 14 seconds.

“I want to shave off some time this year; I want to get into the fifteens – that’s my goal,” she said.

“When I first started I was intimidated (because there were those with more experience),” she said. “But I’ve learned over the past three years that everyone wants you to do better. There’s real camaraderie. It’s a healthy competition.”

The sandy hills around Moab are great areas to exercise and prepare for the event, Wiggins said.

Gold said she grew up with parents who rode in the rodeo, and she rode on horseback with her grandfather before she could even walk.

The Moab event draws participants from around the Four Corners area, including a “huge contingent” from western Colorado, Gold said.

“They’re fast horses,” she said. “It’s fun, exciting to watch.”

Gold said she expects 100 contestants each day. Saturday’s event begins at 1 p.m., and the Sunday competition starts at 10 a.m. The races usually last between two and three hours.

Participants’ entry fees go toward the purses that racers can win. Anywhere from 16 to 20 riders will take home cash prizes, Gold said.

Racing around the obstacles in less than a minute can be scary, Wiggins said. She said she learned last year, however, that she can trust her horse.

“I lost my stirrup and felt like I was going to fall,” Wiggins said. “(My horse) kept upright so I could stay balanced. She took care of me that way. I had not put that trust in her before. You’re part of a team with the horse. They rely on you for correct cues – it’s a partnership.”

Barrel racing event comes to Old Spanish Trail Arena this weekend

There’s real camaraderie. It’s a healthy competition.

What: Racing in the Rockies

When: Saturday, April 1, at 1 p.m. and Sunday, April 2, at 10 a.m.

Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191

Cost: Free to spectators

Information:, or 970-390-3712

For more information, go to:, or call 970-390-3712.