Since December 1, 2016 eight barrel races I planned on attending have been cancelled because of weather. Not just snow but rain, ice, pass conditions, hazardous weather warnings, flood warning, and probably more. For all of us barrel racers who are stuck up north during the winter, this one has been more of an adventure than some. Not only have we been unable to barrel race but we haven’t been able to go westbound or east bound over Interstate 90 and most of us in Eastern WA on Wednesday, January 18th, enjoyed an “ice” day.
Weather Men weren’t kidding this year when they said La Nina would probably be a strong one. Strong La Nina years are promising to bring healthy mountain snow packs.
It’s been six weeks now that barrel racers have been battling the weather and around week two we finally quit the battle for awhile. Two barrel races have been cancelled in Moses Lake in December and January because of poor pass conditions, icy roads, frozen ground, and freezing temperatures. The race producer didn’t want to take any chances of a horse or rider being injured trying to get to her barrel race because the road conditions were poor.
The weeks of cold temperatures continued on and all the fortunate barrel racers began packing their trucks and trailers to head south for some of the winter. On December 26 most of the snow birds left the freezing temperatures behind and headed south. As the snow falls outside or in some cases the ice, barrel racers in the Northwest are sitting in front of their computers live streaming all the Classic Equine Futurity and Derby, Greg Olson Memorial Futurity and Derby, and Annual Pac West Barrel Race.
As we sit at home and drool over the snow bird’s Facebook post enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures, we can’t help but be in awe. As most people in Eastern Washington, my horse is currently turned out for the time being as barrel races still continue to be cancelled and we just survived an ice storm here in Ellensburg. Sitting at home has left all of us barrel racers that much more eager to work hard and hopefully one year be able to head south to Arizona for the winter and “chase the dream.”
Over the last few days I’ve began to wonder what the outcome of this winter will bring. My filly who is turned out isn’t seasoned, she’s been entered in two barrel races and is supposed to have her futurity year beginning this spring. I’m feeling behind. I’m rethinking futurities and barrel races I want to enter. It’s not fair to enter an out of shape, “green” horse and expect greatness from her.
This winter has definitely been a winter to say the least as every barrel racer from the north has battled snow, rain, ice, sleet, and the occasional sunny day. When the snow melts, the days get longer, and our farmers go back to the fields, there will be plenty of barrel racing alleys to ride down and adventures to await.