Friday, October 10, 1997
Rider proves barrel racing is a man's sport
By BETH HALLMARK Staff Writer
Championship horseman Talmadge Green knows millions of reasons
why barrel racing is a man's sport too -- and they all add up
Green, 36, has won almost $2 million competing in the sport
since 1985. Some of it he earned several years ago in Abilene,
which is why he chose the city to have the first Cowboy National
Championship barrel racing competition.
The event is sponsored by the National Barrel Horse Association,
founded by Green just five years ago and already boasting 13,000
members throughout the country.
"There were a lot of barrel racers, but no unifying organization,"
Green explains. "Now we're the fastest-growing equine sport
About 400 barrel racers from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and
Mexico will participate in the Cowboy Championship, which began
Thursday morning at the Expo Center and runs through Saturday.
"We expect it to grow every year," Green said. "That's
why we chose Abilene to host the event; we want a town we can
build a relationship with."
Green's relationship with barrel racing began at the age of
10. He started competing professionally in his 20s and was soon
the first racer to top the $1 million prize mark.
The three-time barrel racing world champion typically competes
in NBHA events but has had to sit out some of this year's rounds
because of recent surgery on an injured knee.
Because of a fall from a horse?
"Nope, basketball" he says.
A sports enthusiast, Green admits he's better at some than
"I broke three ribs in a softball league, but horses don't
seem to hurt me."
NOT JUST FOR WOMEN
Green bristles just a bit when discussing the perception that
barrel racing is primarily a woman's sport. The Georgia native
notes that "back east" most of the riders are men.
"Until you get on that horse and go through that pattern,
it's hard to make a judgment. In barrel racing you've got to have
a little bit of everything.
"You have to have a cutting-type horse with a racehorse
He admits men are at a slight disadvantage in a sport where
the less one weighs the better.
But offering everyone the chance to compete together is the
main feature of NBHA events.
Prize money is divided up three ways, with 50 percent of the
purse going to the fastest racer. After one second is taken off
the winning time, the racer closest to that time gets 30 percent.
The racer coming closest to two seconds below the top time wins
The idea behind the handicap system is to allow "backyard
barrel racers" to compete with the professionals and still
win prizes and titles, Green said.
In addition to the open class, the youth and senior classes
offer all ages the opportunity to race. Green said competitors'
ages range from 8-years-old to over 65.
Open class competition, which began Thursday, continues today.
Finals and youth and senior class competitions will be held Saturday.
Admission to the event is free.
"We're trying to change the myth that this is a women's
sport," said show director Sherry Fulmer.
"Out here it's kind of a macho thing."
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