Barrel racing is a sport where a horse and rider gallop in a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels set up in a triangle. On the rodeo circuit, only women compete in barrel races, while men and women compete together at horse shows and barrel-racing competitions. As of 2011, a few movies focus on barrel racing as central to the plot. Other films feature girl barrel racers in smaller roles.
In this 1998 movie based on a true story, a young girl is injured in a car accident that also kills her father. She is despondent until she befriends a horse named Ginger, who is also injured. Together they recuperate and ride several barrel races. The film was directed by James Fargo and featured child actress Kelsey Mulrooney and character actor Tom Amandes.
Vinessa Shaw and Adam Beach star in this 1996 movie about two teens who steal an untamed black horse. Shaw’s character is a rebellious girl sent to a family-owned ranch in Utah for the summer, and Beach plays a ranch hand. The pair tames the horse and Shaw’s character rides it in a barrel race to prove to its owners that it can be a successful rodeo horse.
This made-for-TV movie stars Katharine Ross as the wife of a rodeo champion who decides to compete herself. Barrel racing is among the events she competes in. She faces challenges stemming from sexism in the rodeo community, and her training schedule combined with an unexpected pregnancy cause strain on her marriage. Despite the word “girl” in the title, Ross was 40 years old when this film was released in 1980.
The Oscar-winning 2005 film “Brokeback Mountain” shows a barrel racer played by Anne Hathaway. Some scenes in the 2006 film “Flicka” depict rodeo barrel racing. “8 Seconds,” starring Luke Perry as real-life rodeo star Lane Frost, includes scenes featuring barrel racing. Daryl Hannah played a barrel racer in the 2001 film “Cowboy Up,” which also stars Kiefer Sutherland. “Pure Country,” from 1992, includes actress Isabel Glasser as a barrel racer. She also appeared in “Second Chances.”