Photo by Jordyn Sturms
by Jordyn Sturms
Harlee Bauman, a senior at Concordia, has competed in barrel racing since the age of six.
Rodeo events run in the family. Her father and brother team rope, her mother breeds horses and her sisters barrel race. From falling asleep on her saddle horn as her horse kept walking during childhood to winning a full belt buckle in competition, Bauman has continued her lifelong passion for horses and racing.
“I was put on a horse as soon as I could sit on my own,” Bauman said. Bauman has been riding since the age of six.
Barrel racing is a timed event around a cloverleaf patterned course. Three metal barrels are arranged in a figure eight with a triangle point. The cloverleaf course differs in size and pattern based on the arena.
Bauman balanced athletics and barrel racing in high school. She played basketball at Concordia her freshman year, but devoted the rest of her college time to racing after missing the horses.
Athletics have nonetheless been an influence on her as a rider.
“(In) basketball, you have to work with the team. It is the same for ropers. You have to work together, you (and the horse) are a partnership,” Bauman said. “Connecting is key.”
“They know their name, and I swear they know my name. I talk to them a lot…whether they understand me or not,” Bauman said with a laugh.
Bauman has had many injuries through her years of racing. She received stitches after her horse ran into a metal barrel during a turn. In another competition she flipped over her horse, the horse then flipped over its own head and landed on Bauman’s legs. She received her worst injury while loping in a circle, when the horse fell and crushed her foot in the stirrups. The fall broke her foot, but five months later she was back on a horse.
“I get nervous now every time my horse stumbles,” Bauman said of her recovery process.
Bauman competes once or twice a week year round, taking a short break in winter. She occasionally travels to larger three-day weekend competitions and consistently participates in the Turn and Burn Series on Wednesday nights in Lincoln.
Barrel Racing has taken her across Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota and Iowa.
Bauman has raced in competitions ranging from 80-800 participants. After competing against an 80-year-old woman, Bauman was inspired to continue barrel racing for the rest of her life.