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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your top questions in these topics below:

  • Member Questions
  • General Questions
  • Points
  • World Championship Events and Qualifications

Membership Questions

Q: What is the National Barrel Horse Association? 
A: The NBHA is an international equine sport association whose purpose is to: 
Promote the sport of barrel racing and its growth on local, state, provincial, national and international levels. 

  • Increase the number of participants. 
  • Improve the quality and safety of shows. 
  • Enhance the image of barrel racing. 
  • Provide all barrel racers, regardless of age, sex or experience, the opportunity to compete for prize money, awards and points in local events throughout the year so they may qualify to compete in NBHA State/ Provincial, National and World Championships.

Q: How do I become a member? 
A: You may apply for membership by completing the attached membership application form and submitting it to NBHA Headquarters along with your annual membership fee. You may also join at any NBHA sanctioned event and be eligible to earn points the same day. Your membership is good for one full year from the time of purchase.  

Q: What do I receive for my membership fee? 
A: Once your membership is accepted, you will receive a membership card, and NBHA sticker. You will also receive a one-year subscription to the Barrel Horse News (a $24 value). In addition, your membership entitles you to many other benefits including: 

  • Eligibility to compete for points in NBHA sanctioned events. 
  • A chance to compete in State/ Provincial, National and World Championships plus NBHA Super Shows.
  • Eligibility for year-end awards.
  • Additional benefits, programs and discounts offered by various NBHA sponsors to our members.

Q: Why should I join the NBHA?
A: You’ll love these membership benefits;

  • You will become part of an international barrel racing organization developed to improve your sport, making it better for you and all other barrel racers.
  • The sanctioning power of the NBHA helps to improve conditions at existing shows and to upgrade arenas to meet NBHA safety standards and show requirements.
  • You can ride in sanctioned shows, close to home, to compete for NBHA points and prize money and qualify for year-end awards, State/ Provincial, National and World Championships.
  • The NBHA is designed primarily for the local weekend competitor. You will have the opportunity to compete for more prize money and awards plus district, and State/ Provincial, National and World titles. The NBHA 4-D and 5-D format means more entries and larger purses, but more importantly, it gives YOU a fairer chance to win!
  • You will receive the BARREL HORSE NEWS containing monthly show updates. The BARREL HORSE NEWS is a monthly magazine dedicated to our members and the sport of barrel racing.
  • As you join forces with other barrel racers around the world, the NBHA is attracting additional national and regional sponsors who are bringing more prize money, awards, benefits and publicity to our sport.
  • You have the opportunity to help make the NBHA one of the largest equine sport associations in the world.
  • If you are a barrel racer or if you want to become a barrel racer the NBHA is the association to join!

Q: Is the NBHA for professional barrel racers only? 
A: No! The NBHA is for all barrel racers, from beginners to experts; from local weekend competitors to professional trainers.

Q: How can beginners compete with professionals?
A: The NBHA uses a four division (4-D) and/or a five division (5-D) format. This makes it possible for the beginning, intermediate and advanced barrel racer to compete AND WIN in the same event. There are four NBHA Classes, the YOUTH 4-D for ages 0-12, the TEEN for ages 13-18, the OPEN 4-D for any age, and the SENIOR for competitors 50 years of age and older.

Q: How does the 4-D format work? 
A: All riders, regardless of ability, run in the same barrel race. The four divisions are then determined by time brackets. With the 4-D format, the OVERALL fastest time of the race is used to set the time brackets for the four divisions. The NBHA awards points to members IN ALL DIVISIONS on a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis for first place through fifth place, regardless of the number of entries or paying places. · 1st Division: These are the riders with the fastest times. · 2nd Division: These are competitors who ran ONE-HALF (1/2) SECOND or SLOWER than the OVERALL fastest time. · 3rd Division: These are competitors who ran ONE (1) SECOND or SLOWER than the OVERALL fastest time. · 4th Division: These are competitors who ran TWO (2) SECONDS or SLOWER than the OVERALL fastest time.

General Questions:

Q: Where will I compete?
A: The NBHA has more than 250 competition districts throughout the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Australia, and Panama. In the U.S., each state is divided into competition districts. Riders may accumulate points only at shows in the district where they live OR the district they declare as their competition district. Your NBHA District Director will sanction not fewer than 6 and not more than 18 shows in your competition district each year. Many of these will be existing open shows and association or club shows where you may already be competing
Q: When does the NBHA season run?
A: The NBHA competition season runs the calendar year from January 1 to December 31.

Q: Do I have to compete in the district where I live?
A: No. If you decide to compete in a district other than where you live, you must declare a competition district by filling out a Declaration of NBHA Competition District form. Members may earn points in only one district at a time. Therefore, if you change competition districts during the year, you will lose the points you have earned and will start over in your new district.

Q: Who do I contact for local NBHA news in my area?
A: For local information, contact your state f district director. You can find your district director here.

Q: Do I have to ride a registered horse?
A: No. Any horse may be used in competition.

Q: Can a Youth rider compete on a stallion?
A: Yes. Youth are permitted to ride stallions in NBHA events.

Q: Do Youth riders have to wear a helmet?
A: No. Helmets are recommended but are not required for Youth riders.

Q: How do I join as a vendor for NBHA events?
A: Vendors can find more information here.

Q. Does the NBHA sponsor individual riders?
A.  Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of competitors who enter our events, we are unable to sponsor individuals and we restrict our sponsorships to businesses, at a national level, as an association. Individuals tend to have the most success gaining sponsors at a local level. Members are urged to put together a biography and a photo in a handout and visit local businesses in their area.

Q. How to I become a feature member on NBHA social media?
A. Simple send a short biography and a photo (a photo that you have right to use) to us via our Official Facebook page. All members are encouraged to participate.

Q: What is the National Barrel Horse Association’s refund policy?
The NBHA honors full refunds for its various events in accordance to its pre-entry cutoff dates. These cutoff dates are stated at the time of online entry and are also always available on the paper entry forms located on the home page of this website. After midnight of the designated cutoff pre-entry date for any event, the rider’s fees are considered non-refundable, unless special considerations are deemed appropriate. Please contact the office for further details.


Q: How are points awarded?
A: Points are awarded to the rider in all classes and divisions.

Q: What happens if I earn points in both the 2nd and 3rd divisions?
A: You may accumulate points in all divisions.

Q: Can I win money at NBHA shows?
A: Yes. All sanctioned shows must use the NBHA approved payback schedule. This schedule requires at least 75% of entry fees (at least 70% if the show has $1,000 or more added money) to be jackpotted and ensures that winners in all NBHA classes and divisions will get prize money.

World Championship Events and Qualifications

Q: What are the age divisions at the World Championship events?
A: For 2021 NBHA Youth & Teen World Championships, anyone who is 12 years and under as of Jan 1, 2020 will be considered a Youth rider. 18 and under as of Jan 1, 2020, will be a Teen for the 2021 Youth & Teen NBHA World Championships. Senior riders are 50 years and older at the time of the show. Super Senior competitors are 60 and over day of the show.

Q: How do I qualify for NBHA World Championship events in 2021? Why did this change for 2021? 
A: After extensive discussion and consideration, the NBHA has modified its qualification requirements for the NBHA 2021 Youth & Teen World Championships and the NBHA 2021 Open & Senior World Championships. The decision was made due to the number of COVID-related event postponements and cancellations in the 2020 season. We understand that we’re operating in unprecedented times and members across the country have not had the opportunity to fully participant in NBHA events. Competitors may qualify to a 2021 NBHA World Championship event by satisfying one of these requirements below. These changes will allow a NBHA member to enter a maximum of five horses to a 2021 World Championship Show.

2021 World Event Qualifier Clarification

There are only two ways to qualify to attend 2021 Worlds:

1.       Be on the 2021 Qualifier List as posted in the Results menu. This list should include everyone who held a membership once in 2020 at any point.

2.       Join in 2021 and personally win a Wildcard. You are unable to use a purchased or gifted Wildcard for entry to the 2021 Worlds if you were not a member for one consecutive year.

DO NOT sell your wildcards or purchase a wildcard with the idea that it can be used for 2021 Worlds. This amendment will not impact NBHA District awards and is only applicable to NBHA 2021 World qualifications. Please note that effective January 1, 2021, we will be returning to our regular qualification regulations through your District for our 2022 World Championship events.

Q: How do I qualify for the World Championships in 2022?
A: By earning NBHA points at sanctioned shows throughout the competition year. The exact number of World Championship qualifiers will be determined by the outcome of competition in each competition district. The top ten of each district D, will earn an invitation to the NBHA World Championships. Members may also qualify for the NBHA World Championship Show by winning an NBHA Wild Card Certificate at an NBHA event, or purchasing and transferring a Wild Card Certificate from another member. If you purchase a NBHA Wild Card, you have to be a NBHA member for over 12 months and you must fill in the Wild Card Certificate transfer form. International competitors who wish to enter a NBHA World Championship must be a member of an affiliated international NBHA club and be in good standing with that club.

Q: When will Gist Silversmiths qualifier buckles be available in 2021?
A: Gist Silversmiths World Championship qualifier buckles are now available for purchase here.

Q: Are Wild Cards age specific?
A: No. You can use a Wild Card for any NBHA class you wish to enter proving your age qualifies you for that entry. For example, you can win a Wild Card in a Senior Division and use it to enter the Open Division.

Q: What is the Sweepstakes Race at the Open & Senior World Championships?
A: The Sweepstakes Race is a Open 5D Race open to all NBHA members. You do not have to be a world qualifier to run in the Sweepstakes race.