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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 visiting our Join/Renew page of the Members tab of our website. All memberships are done through our online portal. If you need assistance, please contact the office at 1-706-722-7223.

Q: What do I receive for my membership fee? 
A: Once your membership is completed online, you will receive the option to download or print a digital membership card and a subscription to the Barrel Horse News (1-2 month delay for first issue). 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. *Please allow up to two months for the first issue to arrive.
  • 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, Panama and many other countries. 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 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. It is highly recommended that stallions be ground handled solely by individuals 18 and over.
There is zero tolerance for uncontrollable, dangerous horses whether stallion or not. Any negligent behavior resulting in improper control of any horse can be grounds for disqualification.

Q: Do Youth riders have to wear a helmet?
A: No. Helmets are recommended but are not required for youth riders except when state or local law mandate otherwise.

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 by email to [email protected]. We cannot guarantee coverage but we appreciate participation and we love to cover as many people as we can.

Q: What is the National Barrel Horse Association’s refund policy on Super Shows and World Championships?
The NBHA Headquarters 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. These refund policies DO NOT apply to district and state shows not conducted by the NBHA National Office. Individual district and states have the ability to designate their own refund policies.


Q: How are points awarded?
A: Points are awarded to the rider in all classes and divisions through 5 placings at the District level. For more detail please see Section C of the Official Rulebook.

Q: What happens if I earn points in both the 2nd and 3rd divisions?
A: You may accumulate points in all divisions once per show. For more detail please see Section C of the Official Rulebook.

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 2024 NBHA Youth & Teen World Championships, anyone who is 12 years and under as of Jan 1, 2023 will be considered a Youth rider. 18 and under as of Jan 1, 2023 will be a Teen for the 2024 Youth & Teen NBHA World Championships. For NBHA Open & Senior 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 the NBHA 2024 Youth & Teen World Championship?
A:  Here’s the ways to qualify for the NBHA 2024 Youth & Teen World Championships:
1) Qualify in the Top Ten of your District
2) Personally own or win an NBHA Wild Card at a NBHA Super Show or a NBHA State Show
3) Purchase a Wild Card from another contestant however you MUST be a NBHA member by March 1, 2024.

Please note your birthday is based off January 1, 2023 for the NBHA 2024 Youth & Teen World Championships. Therefore if you were born in 2004 or later you meet age requirements to have the option to attend.

Q: Are Gist Silversmiths qualifier buckles still available?
A: Yes. Gist Silversmiths World Championship qualifier buckles are now available for purchase here.

Q: Are Wildcards age specific?
A: No. You can use a Wildcard for any NBHA class you wish to enter proving your age qualifies you for that entry. For example, you can win a Wildcard 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.