Local barrel racing team cleans up at Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition
Kati Macisaac and her quarter horse Barracuda are something of a dream team, when it comes to barrel racing– that much can be seen in their achievements at the 2018 Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition.
Macisaac and Barracuda achieved two first-place finishes, a second-place fand were crowned barrel horse champions last weekend.
Going into the exhibition in Antigonish, Macisaac and Barracuda already had a number of barrel racing achievements, having previously won the champion title in North Sydney, reserve champion in Truro, and reserve champion at Old Home Week in P.E.I.
Although she is excited to have done as well as she has across the Maritimes, Macisaac said "it feels great to race in your hometown," where she and Barracuda had the decided hometown advantage, racing against the clock in the Antigonish arena.
"You recognize a lot of voices when you ride in your hometown," Macisaac said. "There are a lot of hockey moms in my family who really know how to yell."
With barrel racing being as adrenaline-soaked and timesensitive a sport as it is, Macisaac said it can be hard to pick out any specific moments that stood out, or were memorable.
"I kind of black out when I’m in there," Macisaac said, "but the crowd is big."
So big, in fact, that a healthy, loud crowd can actually make a difference in the speed Barracuda is willing to run.
"If you don’t have a crowd, it may not go well. If you do, she definitely runs a lot of faster," she said of her horse.
Macisaac attributed Barracuda’s love of rowdy crowds to their time running barrel races in rodeo events in the United States – events that draw large crowds, adding, "Barracuda loves to perform for people cheering loudly."
The process of training for barrel racing can be a mixed bag for Macisaac, since her approach to training depends on the horse she rides. With Barracuda, training for the exhibition was a cinch, because Macisaac and Barracuda have been a team since the quarter horse was three years old.
"She came off the race track, so she knows how to run – it’s natural to her," Macisaac said.
There are, however, some constants, regardless of the horse or rider involved, when it comes to training for barrel racing. She noted being able to bend and having impeccable balance are constant necessities in the sport of barrel racing, where everything from how well a horse and rider are able to angle themselves as they pass a barrel to the quality of the dirt underfoot can make or break a winning time on the clock.
On the subject of dirt, the quality of the dirt was one factor Macisaac and Barracuda triumphed, in spite of. Barrel racing is separated into groups of five. Every five riders that race, the dirt on the floor is dragged and evened back out.
Depending on the luck of a draw, a rider could be on smooth, even ground, which makes for better times, or if they are not so lucky, "something that is all rutted."
Macisaac and Barracuda did not get the luck of the draw, racing fourth in their group. Clearly, that was not enough to keep them from their tight barrel racing performance.
Kati Macisaac and her horse, Barracuda, shortly after their impressive showing at the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition barrel racing finals on Sept. 2.