Barrel racing is a sport that can be done in almost every state, and nearly every month. The Nebraska 4-D Barrel Racing Association held its finals on October 6-7, 2012 at the Custer County Fairgrounds in Broken Bow, Neb. This is where the year’s champions were crowned, and members celebrated the end of another successful season.
One of those members was 11-year-old Mataya Ecklund of Valentine, Neb. She was the 1-D Champion in the youth division, and the 3-D champion in the open division.
“It was just fun. It was really exciting to win the youth division,” she said.
Ecklund turned in a time of 16.387 seconds in her first run, and 16.313 in her second, for a total time of 32.700 seconds. She has been barrel racing as long as she can remember, and this is her second year competing in the 4-D series. She went home with new boots, and two new bridles for her success at the finals.
Her horse, named Rainman, has been her trusty steed for the past four years. “He is nice and he barely ever clips barrels. A friend of ours gave us him. I get to use him and then he gets to go out in the pasture,” she said.
Her mother, Misti Ecklund, was the 1-D barrel champion in the open division. They travel to events together, as well as with Mataya’s grandmother. “We get to go together. It’s fun to go to races around here with my family,” she said.
The 2-D champion was Sandy Harms of Valentine, Neb., who turned in a time of 15.734 seconds in her first run, and 16.003 in her second run for a total time of 31.737 seconds.
She began barrel racing more than 40 years ago, and still enjoys every minute of it.
“After I married my husband, I got into barrel racing because I was tired of sitting in the stands. He was a calf roper and a team roper,” she said.
She added, “I enjoy everything about barrel racing. It’s a rush to train a horse and go out and win with them.”
Harms’ horse, named Freckles Frechman, has been her barrel racing companion since he was just a weaning. She trained him, and first starting racing him when he was 5-years-old. “He was very easy to train, and very easy to ride. He is very calm, and he goes out and does his job. He is just a really nice horse to be around and to handle. He is my main guy now,” she said.
Harms has had horses since she was 5-years-old. She now trains her own barrel horses, and starts many of them when they are young.
“I train them mostly for myself. I really like a nice looking horse, but that’s not the main thing. It’s the feel. I want them to have quick feet and really move. I know when I get on one if it has the feel that I want,” Harms stated.
As the winner of the 2-D division, she brought home a headstall with buckles on it that stated she was the 2-D winner.
Harms enjoys the Nebraska 4-D barrel racing because of the options she has. “I like it because you don’t have to travel a lot. You get to go to one race, and make three runs and you can run as many horses as you want,” she said.
She continued, “I also love the camaraderie. All of your friends are all there. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Nebraska 4-D association was started in 1998. “It was begun to promote the sport of barrel racing,” said Marlene McGaughey, Secretary for the Nebraska 4-D Association.
She continued, “Before this association had begun, jackpots were often structured by classes such as 100 novice, 500 novice, 1000 novice etc. The 4-D concept was begun in an effort to level the playing field for horses and contestants who were just getting started, as well as those who were seasoned pros within the sport.”
The fee structure for the organization has remained the same since its inception. “The organization has maintained the same standard entry fee for all of these years, which is $28.00 per run, and $15.00 per run in the youth. There is a $1.00 awards fee collected from each entry fee, which funds the year end awards. The membership money is put into a year-end finals, making the organization a ‘self-funding’ entity,” said McGaughey.
She added, “To join, a member will complete a membership application and make one run as a member, which will qualify the member for the year-end finals.”
The first year, the association had 73 members. In 2012, they had 180 members. “The association has a goal to provide a fair and equitable, no hassles organization that is open to everyone, with no hidden costs, to promote the sport of clover-leaf barrel racing, and to provide a statewide organization for the sole benefit of the members and participants,” McGaughey said. ❖