Boots, Barrels, Bimbos and Boobs! It’s RODEO GIRLS baby!!!

This would be a fitting caption for the advertising poster for A & E‘s newest reality TV show Rodeo Girls.

Am I right?

And after viewing this poster advertising the show…

…this undoubtedly is exactly what this show is going to be about. I propose we concentrate efforts and all boycott Rodeo Girls as it is an INSULT to all barrel racers!! I mean, no real barrel racer would ever ride in a bikini!! This is just trashy garbage that makes us look bad!!!

O.K. Let’s pause.

If you agree with what I’ve said so far, here’s your chance to turn back because if you are easily offended, what I say next will likely forever alter your opinion of myself and my company. You’ve been warned.

And here’s why.

I love this poster. I think it is brilliant. Absolutely BRILLIANT. This “scandalous”, “trashy” show might just be one of the best things to happen to the sport of barrel racing since the invention of the divisional system some 20 years ago. (gasp!) Now, I don’t have a crystal ball, or any inside info that you don’t have, but I do have a decent dose of common sense and a realistic expectation of human nature.

I know that although it’s hard to comprehend that there is a person on the planet who doesn’t know what barrel racing is, the cold, hard fact is that most people have no clue what we do. You know what I’m talking about… “You do what with the barrel?” “Is it barrel riding or barrel racing?”. In fact, I’d venture that most people in this country go their entire lives without ever going to a rodeo or barrel race.

Do you realize that the above photo is at a bus stop in New York City? Wow. I’d say it was paramount to have a little shock value involved to catch the attention of this massive audience of non-horse people.

This show will ultimately bring our sport into the living rooms of millions of people who otherwise may never have the opportunity to experience it. And while it might not bring it in the most “realistic” of packages, let’s be honest here, how long do you think we could keep the public’s attention if we showed them what we really do. The “real” life of a barrel racer… you know, cleaning pens, all-night colic sessions, wrapping legs, trips to the feed store, hours and hours in the practice pen, hooking up trailers, breaking icy water troughs in the winter… all the un-glamorous stuff that happens to be a part of the deal. I mean, we can talk about ground conditions (dirt people!) for hours, which I’m going to bargain wouldn’t be a captivating conversation for mainstream America. Heck, if that’s how the producers chose to spin it, I likely wouldn’t watch either.

And in an effort to un-bunch some undies from a few (thousand) people who have gotten themselves wound up over this poster, let’s get a few facts straight:
1. Women do run barrels in bikinis. Every weekend, in fact. They are literally called “Bikini Barrel Races” and are typically done to raise money for charity. REAL barrel racers do it. The good ones (and not-so-good ones), ones that look great in a bikini, and then the rest of us too. Like it or hate it, it does happen.
2. The girls on the show are real barrel racers. I’m not saying they are vying for World Titles here, but I know (or know of) each and every one of the girls on the show and they are the real deal. In fact, one of the show’s stars, Barb West, is running this coming weekend at the Columbia River Circuit Finals, and this is not the first time she’s been there.
3. This poster does not give barrel racers a bad reputation. Barrel racers give barrel racers a bad reputation. Enough said.
4. A & E doesn’t really care what we think about this poster, or the show. A & E is in the business of making money, and our barrel racing/equine community is such a small fraction of the over-all audience for this show. We are not the audience this show is intended for, we are the minority folks.

Now, I am sympathetic to those of you who are still disconcerted about the potential for the show to cast barrel racing in an unflattering light, which is a legitimate risk and concern. However, I think this might be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, made before thoroughly putting this “reality show” into the proper context. If you can get past being insulted at this bikini-clad sex pot being our representative, you might be able to see there is a bigger picture going on here. A bigger picture that just might benefit us all.

And for those of you that just can’t figure out how to feel about this situation, here is my suggestion: JUST RELAX!

When Rodeo Girls airs on Dec. 15th, grab yourselves some popcorn and settle in on the couch to be entertained. Because that is, after all, the point of the show. Expect it to be outrageous and sensationalized, chock-full of drama and an unrealistic dose of eye candy. Be confident that most people realize this is the case, as with all reality TV. MOST people have the common sense to recognize the show will likely be an exaggerated version of the truth.Be pleasantly surprised if there are realistic aspects of our sport portrayed, laugh at the inaccuracies, and just enjoy.

Be confident that any exposure is bound to be positive for the barrel racing industry. It will undoubtedly bolster attendance at rodeos and barrel races, which will ultimately increase the purses we run at. Anticipate that it will broaden the scope of potential sponsors, and if I’m being particularly optimistic, I think there will be a drastic increase in people who pursue our sport. And you know what that means! More events, bigger events, increases in horse values, etc… etc…

I am hopeful that the show plays into people’s fascination for our sport in a huge way, engaging a massive new fan base that could propel barrel racing into the mainstream and onto whole new level. I would even go so far as to hope it helps in establishing barrel racing as a lucrative industry much like NASCAR or the NBA.

To further this perpetual optimism, I am embracing this statement from A & E’s General Manager and EVP David McKillop:

“The women of the competitive barrel racing world are formidable athletes living sensational lives and we are excited for our viewers to go along for the wild ride.”

Sounds good to me!

Until next time ~ thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween! ~ Jess

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