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Barrel racers head east to compete

Bruce Krabbenhoft on 9-year-old Mr. Red Surprise and Courtney Pilkey on 21-year-old Tia are competing in the National Barrel Horse Association world championships in Perry, Ga. this week. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Bruce Krabbenhoft and Courtney Pilkey are off to compete in Georgia at the National Barrel Horse Association world championships.

The duo has been practicing together for the last few years. Pilkey started barrel racing about four years ago with Krabbenhoft. He has been barrel racing since 1998.

"I've been riding horse my whole life," Pilkey said.

She likes the speed of barrel racing, a reason she started competing in that sport.

"I love going fast, putting my life on the edge," she said.

Krabbenhoft started riding when he was 48 years old.

"I'm still competing and that's something," he joked.

Barrel racing involves riding in a cloverleaf around barrels positioned in a diamond pattern.

"We go as fast as we can go," Pilkey said.

Times vary depending on the course but a good run is about 15 seconds, Krabbenhoft said.

He says Pilkey, a sophomore at Park Rapids Area High School, is already beating him in competition.

She won the youth division in her district and qualified for the world championships.

Pilkey is also heavily involved in 4-H and has placed at state competition for the last four years. She is a member of the 4-H Riders.

Krabbenhoft was a 4-H leader for 18 years. He's no longer a leader but still helps out.

"The kids just won't let me out of it," he said.

They each train their own horses. Pilkey's family bought her horse, Tia, from Krabbenhoft.

Training to barrel race isn't an easy task. It involves riding one to two hours every night and competing on the weekends.

"It's really a second job," Krabbenhoft said.

Pilkey loves riding horse, though.

"I get to ride more in the summer but I still go out every day in the winter," she said.

The trip to the Perry, Ga. competition began Wednesday. It was expected to take three days. The first competition run starts this weekend and will continue throughout the week.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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