When it comes to the importance of rider and horse working as a team, there is nothing like barrel racing, which is one of two events open to cowgirls only. Ropers and steer wrestlers often borrow mounts and win, but take a barrel racer off her horse and it's a whole different world.
Things to look for:
Three barrels are set up in a cloverleaf pattern. The horse and rider race around the barrels completing the pattern. A good barrel horse require the spirit and speed of a quarter horse and the agility of a polo pony.
The contender chases, the steer, which is decorated at the shoulder with a ribbon, and reaches, down onto the steer's shoulder while attempting to remove the ribbon.
Once the contender has successfully removed the ribbon, she raises the ribbon high overhead to signal to the judge she is finished. All this happens as fast as the steer can run and requires tight coordination between rider and horse.
The best overall time wins. A five-second penalty is assessed for each barrel knocked down and the rider is disqualified if the pattern is run incorrectly.