What Is The Best Breed Of Horse For Barrel Racing? Picking A Barrel Horse

Barrel racing is an amazing sport for horses. It takes what they love and makes it a game for them. It is a beautiful thing to watch as horse and rider become one and they speed around those barrels and to the finish line to get the fastest time they can.

Barrel horses need to be both fast and agile which is a tough combination to find in anything. But some horses are bred to just barrel race as the cost of them can rise up into the six figures.

best barrel horse breed

What is the best breed of horse for barrel racing? Well, many kinds of horses are taken into consideration for a barrel race, and they well trained in many areas. Quarter horse is definitely the go to for barrel racing.

A Little about Barrel Racing

It is a western sport, and mainly female riders also called as cowgirls, take part in this event with some local boys also taking part. They train the horses to compete in a barrel race which consists of completing a cloverleaf-shaped road with the barrels in between it and the fastest one wins. It is a type of rodeo. It shows the competitive ability of a horse and showmanship of the rider.

The whole game time and the performance point of view do not judge it. Any horse can run through barrels, but horses who are competitive and want to win can only become the best. Horses who trained for barrel racing start at the age of five years. They are taught to listen to the commands given by the rider. And they practice in all kinds of environments a barrel race can have. Now we will talk about the breeds of horses that chosen for barrel racing all over the world;


An American horse which only trained to race. It is also a well-known horses’ breed in the USA. They have a beautiful, described as leopard like spotted skin which makes them stand out. Some might even have striped skin. Appaloosa is preferred for barrel racing because they are quite suitable for the environment and racing.



Did you know that thoroughbred is quiet tall horses? They specially trained to race. They have amazing speed. Their skin is of color that can vary from brown to grey to white. Some of them have missing toes and from that people train them to be the best, but in some cases, they are of no use at all.

Thoroughbred species don’t get easily irritated and aren’t harmful in any way. They are great horses for racing, and they are hard to handle being the ball of energy they seem to radiate. Thoroughbred is also considered one of the fastest horse in the world. They are incredibly athletic and full of high energy. That’s why they are great in barrel racing.

Beginner riders are not recommended to start training with a thoroughbred. Thoroughbred is best known as hot-blooded or hot-tempered breed of horses. Due to these qualities they are good for racing. A racing thoroughbred starts slower but can quickly speed up.


Quarter Horses

Most women like to ride a quarter horse during the barrel race because they have a great sense of winning and have high speed. American quarter horses are the best with all the right qualities which are desired to fit barrel race criteria. They are one of the popular breeds. The beginner riders can easily handle a quarter horse. Quarter horses are high in demand due to the perfect abilities of a racing horse. The quarter horses have powerful legs which makes them a lot easier to take turns without hurting themselves or anyone. Long and strong legs are faster to carry and thus quarter horses are the best racing horses out there. Quarter horses love barrel races because of the qualities they have in them.

Quarter Horse


It’s a horse with a large built, but they are very soft and warm to handle. It doesn’t take much hard work to train them. They are easy to prepare by riders. Although they don’t have the speed of the other racing horses, they are quick to learn what they taught of. They are considered the fastest or slowest.


Paint Horse

Paint horses are a breed of a quarter horse but with more colours. As you can see they are the same as quarter horses, so they carry the same abilities to be a great barrel racing horse. They are beautiful to look at and are attention seeking horses when racing in the event. They are fast and are quickly turned around matching the speed of a great racing horse, and they are not hard to control either. Any rider will be lucky to ride this one.

paint horse

Grade Horses

Last but not the least we have grade horses which don’t have a real background, but that doesn’t make them any less of a barrel racer. Grade horses never let you down no matter in which situation of the race they are put in. They can make you win any, and that’s for sure!

grade horses

Appendix Quarter Horse

There can be some confusion on this horse as there has been some research done that a lot of quarter horses actually are Appendix Quarter Horse. An Appendix Quarter Horse is simply a cross between a registered quarter horse and a registered thoroughbred. The benefits of this is a quarter calmer demeanor with a thoroughbreds athleticism.

If you look up a bunch of pictures of appendix quarter horses you will see that some look more like quarters horses and some look a little more slimmer and much more like thoroughbreds which is normal. I used to race one of these in high school rodeo was a beautiful horse especially for the cost we actually got him from a race track auction. He was much more slender then a quarter horse and his stride was amazing he lived to be 25 and we miss him everyday.

appendix quarter horse


So, in the end, what is the best breed of horse for barrel racing? Quarter horses are honestly considered the best kind of horse for barrel racing because of their speed and ability to move fast and quickly. But apparently, there are no rights or wrong qualities that we can say considered as the best out of all of them, each one of the barrel racing horses has their unique qualities to them which make them faster and better.



I have owned over 50 horses and currently own a small horse farm with 8 horses. I have competed on and off for over 25 years while doing mostly trail riding and cow sorting these days. I write these articles to help anyone out there if you love this article pin it to your Pinterest or Share on other social media platform. Thanks for visiting.

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