Twila Byars

Where are you from? I am originally from Ft Worth Texas but my family moved to Weatherford before I started high school. Weatherford is home and has been for 20 plus years.

When did you start barrel racing? I started before I could drive but took breaks between for family, kids, school.

Are you involved in any other equine events? Currently no, barrel racing has taken over my life. I always thought I might rope but figured I would be one of the few to loose a finger so I stuck with the event I was good at.

Who or What got you started barrel racing? As a kid anything fast and furious was an interest. My dad wanted boys but got stinky girls so he threw us on dirt-bike’s. As I grew older and wanted bigger and faster bikes my parents decided bigger was not going to happen for me. ( I think seeing me zoom threw the woods at full speed flying between the trees was enough) So the next step for me had to be riding a 1100 pound horse at there full speed and turning three cans of course.

On the road things sometimes happenDo you have an unusual or funny story? My friend Julie McIntosh were coming from Missouri after picking up a horse I just bought (Emily has him now). We are going down the road talking as always, she sees flames and smoke coming from my trailer. I kept telling her no it must be something else how could my trailer be on fire? It sounded to crazy. We pulled over in the only town in the middle of no where. Two din-bat blondes hauling a trailer, which is smoking and spitting flames, I can only imagine what the 20 locals must have thought. We went to a tiny gas station and someone told us it was the barrens. So he did some voodoo magic and we limped the trailer the rest of the way home. The horse (Kidd) I was hauling took the whole ordeal a lot better than we did, he even got into a trailer again after the trauma. If I were him I would have never gotten into a box on wheels again. lol

What was the name of your favorite horse and tell us a little about it. Go Snoop has got to be the best horse I have ever owned. I bought him when he was a 3yr old in Arkansas. I got Snoop at a time where being discouraged came easy and blaming the horse for my mistakes was easier. When I was training him I spent several years getting him right. He put up with my tantrums when things went wrong and my happiness when things went right. Over time as he grew he taught me to grow as a rider. I had to learn that he was giving me what I asked but I was not always doing what I taught. He is one of the few who knows what I want and need. When Im on him we are one motion. He always took care of me even even when I was pregnant with my daughter. When my oldest daughter Celie wanted to ride he gave her 100%, Snoop took Celie to high school finals even after she passed away. She only was able to make it two months into the season before she was taken from us. They held a spot for the finals even after months of rodeos. Celie and Snoop earned that spot. He took care of Celie and now takes care of my youngest daughter Bronte.

Over the years have you noticed any changes in barrel racing what are the good or bad you’ve seen?  There have been so many changes in the industry sometimes it feels unreal. I still believe in the “rodeo way” where you haul from show to show. You get what you get, good ground bad ground, it did not matter.

Do you think of yourself as a professional barrel racer? I would have to say yes, I feel I have earned my time in the industry. I have had many obstacles over the past few years that has put my mind and body in a place in the middle. Im still hanging on to base core that makes us do what we do to keep hauling down the road. When I can find that place of peace with things I cant change, Im coming back with a fury.

Do you have any advice for anyone just starting out in barrel racing? I would have to say that taking your time to find what works for you is always a good start. As barrel-racers we tend to already have the need for speed in us which seems to push us to hurry our horse and ourselves. Take the time to find out what your horse needs, what you need, then find a middle place of compromise for the both of you. My biggest mistake and regret was blaming my horse for my mistakes. Understanding your horse and his personality is half the battle. Don’t get me wrong there are some horses that try to do you dirty but most of the time there is a reason. Try to understand and how to read them. I have found most horses really want to please they just sometimes need a reason to trust.

Do you think barrel racing should be limited to women only? On the Pro Rodeo level I still agree it should be women. I think on all another levels its great, I have several male friends who run barrels and they are great.

Click here to see some of the barrel races Twila has won money in