What Does Starfishing Mean in Barrel Racing?

I used to wonder “What does starfishing mean in barrel racing?” as half of the fellow horse admirers support the idea whereas the other half are strictly against it. I couldn’t actively take part in the discussion as I have never witnessed the crowd yelling “starfisher”.

Like most of you, I even tried Googling several times but ended up with disappointment because there weren’t any satisfactory articles about it.

At last, I asked one of the closest friends what starfishing is so I can express my point of view in these discussions. 

The view or information I’m about to present down can be faulty as I do not consider myself competent enough to talk about it with full confidence.

It’s ridiculous to write about something you still have to figure out, right? Well, it’s to save you from researching and going through long discussion forums reading unnecessary details but not the actual subject of interest.

What is starfishing in barrel racing?

To be called a ” starfisher” the rider violently kicks the horses to move forward with speed and when they are at the peak of their performance the rider spreads the legs as much as they can(just like the starfish) with his/her butt in the air this so-called heroic act is called “starfishing”. 

In starfishing, the horse is pushed violently to perform up to the people’s expectations. The horse has got no other option but to run and bear the abuse.

What do you need to know about starfishing and barrel racing?

It may sound like a fine horse sport but it’s not an ideal place to put your horse in and there is a lot you need to know about starfishing and barrel racing.

No, the horses do not love it

The starfishers and barrel racers defend their shameful act by saying ” the horse loves what it does” but how can the poor animal love being abused constantly?

It cruel in all senses

Starfishing is cruel because of the violent kicking and the abuse the horse has to take in. It is just super cruel.

Even though it’s been days since I got to know what it truly is, I’m still struggling to believe how one can have the heart to push their beloved horse to limits.

Barrel racing is equally cruel

Barrel racing is a big rodeo event in which the rider attempts to make his horse run fastest around the barrels in a cloverleaf pattern.

The horses are whipped and kicked badly to improve the performance.

Whipping often causes inflammation and bruises that can also leave the permanent scar. 

A lot of barrel racers claim that whipping doesn’t hurt at all, it instead improves the performance. How can a thing that leaves a permanent scar not hurt?

The horses in barrel racing, get kicked and whipped again and again to perform better which is utter cruelty.


It’s dangerous for the horse and the starfisher

If we see it from a whole other way, it’s dangerous for the starfisher as well because he or she is hanging in the air with minor support.

The chances of starfishers injury are as bright as the horse’s. It may sound harsh, but it’s no less than playing with fire. 

A majority of true horse admirers do not like being a part of starfishing or barrel racing

No doubt, a huge number of people gather to see the horse’s supernatural performance but a majority of true horse admirers do not like being a part of starfishing or barrel racing.

The reason why they strongly hate this so-called heroic act is that it’s wrong to cheerlead or even become a part of such shameful acts.

Starfishing and barrel racing is discouraged but it is still existing

Starfishing and barrel racing is discouraged on a large scale but it still exists probably because if it gets so much hate it gathers a lot of appreciation as well. Or maybe the barrel racers are not being discouraged well. If the horses could speak of the abuse they take in the starfishing and barrel racing it must have stopped existing.

American Quarter horses are mostly used for starfishing and barrel racing

Starfishing and barrel racing are an extreme sport that can not be done with a regular horse. The American Quarter and thoroughbred horses are generally preferred for starfishing and barrel racing.

Barrel racing back then vs. now

It is believed that the first barrel racing competition was held in Texas and it had only figure-eight and cloverleaf pattern racing. Whereas the barrel racing being conducted now is a combination of various extreme horse sports including starfishing, cloverleaf pattern racing, keyhole race, and pole bending. It also includes gymkhana and O-Mok-See.

The horses that take part in barrel racing retire early

The horses that take part in starfishing or barrel racing are suffering from injuries, inflammation, and bruises every other day so most of them get retired early(because of serious injury or inability to perform such extreme sport), even at seven years of age.


Starfishing is a cruel act in which the horse is running at the fastest speed and the rider is hanging in their air with the slightest saddle support.

The crowd gathers to cheerlead the rider by calling her/him “starfisher. Barrel racing and starfishing are both equally cruel as the horses that take part in such sports are going to be constantly abused. Despite all the hate and discouragement, this shameful horse sport is still managing to exist

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Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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