"You're only as good as your competition." That statement, made by a barrel racing acquaintance ("B"), has been on my mind lately. Might need a little bit of info before I get into that.
I'm a member of a group known as SBRA (Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association). It's set up similar to NBHA. We run on a 3D system: 1D is the fast time, 2D is fast time + 1 second and 3D is fast time +2 seconds and slower. This is supposed to make it "fair and competitive" for all levels of horse and rider; from rookies to rodeo competitors, green horses to finished barrel racers.
My question is how fair is it when some of those finished barrel horses are Pro level horses? I have no problems with people competing on a KCRA or CCA level horse. The 3D system is still able to make it fun and competitive for everyone. But when you get a Pro horse in there the 3D system goes out the window.
The Pro horse is now the 1D horse, former 1D horses are now 2D and sometimes 3D. Which leaves most 2D horses out of it, unless they were really good in which case they are now 3D. The rest of the 2D horses and the 3D horses are completely out of it.
I don't have a problem with someone competing on a Pro horse that is just coming out of time off due to illness or injury (they need somewhere to get re-tuned up) or if it is a new horse for the rider and they're figuring out their groove. However I just think it is plain greedy for a horse competing on the pro-level to be involved in something like this. SBRA was developed to give ALL riders a chance. It has always been aimed at those of us who would like to barrel race but don't have the time/money/skill/horse to rodeo.
This subject came up last year at finals when four of us "non-rodeo" girls were sitting around having a few beverages in the evening after chores. While I agree with the statement made by B I have to wonder if she'd have the same viewpoint now. This winter one of the girls in our district bought a new Pro horse. This new horse was over $130,000. (yes that's the correct amount of zero's!)
Now, I honestly think that "pro-rodeo girl" and I are about evenly matched in the riding abilities department. But really, there is no way I can afford to buy a horse that could compete with a horse of that level. (his price does reflect his abilities)
Then there's the risk to the Pro horse. We all know hauling a horse has a risk no matter how careful we are. We know that every time we run our horse something can happen. With how little there is to earn in SBRA why would you risk ending a pro horse's career? Trust me I worry about my own horses too, it just seems stupid to risk a horse worth that much money when its capable of so much more.
It's just my opinion but I think there needs to be a limit to the level of horse entering SBRA competitions.