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The art of the a.r.t.

Sharon knows the A.R.T. of Barrel Racing! But what about Barrel Art? Oops, forget that… barrels are called “cans” which are often made up to look like beverage containers… and we all know it’s not safe to Drink and Ride! So let’s move on to The Art of the Barrel Horse or “The Horse’s Art.”

First, a bit of history: Native Americans did not create art for its own sake. The form and decoration of objects evolved out of daily needs and spiritual beliefs over thousands of years. Art, beauty, and spirituality are so intertwined in the daily life of traditional Native Americans that it is nearly impossible to speak of them separately. Each animal had its own spirit through which one could establish contact with the spirit world. This was particularly true with regard to the Native American horses. The war horse was highly regarded by its owner, who often honored and protected his horse by painting tribal symbols upon its body. The Native American horse was decorated with carefully chosen war symbols or power symbols which might be intended to give him protection, to indicate the troubles which lay ahead, or which spoke of the courageous heart of the horse.

In many ways, Cowboy is my "war horse." Together we do battle against the barrels. Over the years, we have developed his “war paint” for competition, based on Native American patterns. Cowboy wears an eagle feather braided into his mane to symbolize strength and speed. A circle is drawn around his eye to symbolize keen vision. Four small stripes are painted on his posterior to represent the claw of a bear and impart speed. A hand print on his shoulder honors the horse who has brought his rider back from a dangerous mission unharmed. To this we add our own creation of a gecko to symbolize patience, stealth, and quick reactions.

When the Spanish first arrived in North America the Native Americans had no experience with horses. Within a few generations, the Native Americans went from never having seen a horse to creating a relationship with horses that should be the envy of any rider. Faith, The Lady Linda’s Mustang Mare (a.k.a. Mare Monster) is a direct descendent of the original Spanish Barbs, Arabs, and Andalusians. As a Paint Horse, Cowboy can certainly trace his heritage back to the Native American war ponies. Through our “horse art” we pay homage to the Native Americans who were arguably the finest horsemen of all time.

Sharon's War Paint
Sharon's War Paint: Camarillo Classic Pink

The Lady Linda and I have our own “battle dress” as we wear pink shirts to support several of our fellow competitors who are fighting breast cancer.

Together we create the “art of the barrel race.” The arena is our canvas, the barrels our paint, and we are the brushes that bring art to the A.R.T. of Barrel Racing. Next time you ride into the arena, think about creating your own masterpiece of Barrel Racing Art.