Lo­cal bar­rel rac­ing team cleans up at East­ern Nova Sco­tia Ex­hi­bi­tion

The Casket - - WHEELS - SAM MACDON­ALD sam­mac­don­ald@the­cas­ket.ca

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.

Sam Macdon­ald

Kati Macisaac and her horse, Bar­racuda, shortly af­ter their im­pres­sive show­ing at the East­ern Nova Sco­tia Ex­hi­bi­tion bar­rel rac­ing fi­nals on Sept. 2.

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