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Lincoln County girl wins horse competition: Passion for sport leads racer to top of national contest

Charleigh Barras, a 10-year-old barrel racer from Lincoln County, won first place in the fourth division in the 2015 National Barrel Horse Association Mid South National Sunday.

This competition, where participants run horses in criss-cross patterns around barrels, took place in the James Lynn Cartlidge Forrest County Center in Hattiesburg. According to her mother, Christy Barras, there were 166 entries from as far away as New York.

The event started on Friday and lasted all weekend. Participants had two runs — called gos — to qualify for the finals.

Photo submitted by Christy Barras Charleigh Barras, her horse Polka Dot and NBHA representative Len Carter pose for a photo to celebrate her win.

Photo submitted by Christy Barras
Charleigh Barras, her horse Polka Dot and NBHA representative Len Carter pose for a photo to celebrate her win.

Charleigh placed first with a time of 18.864 seconds. Prizes for winning participants include a saddle and money, along with a wild card that allows winners to get an invitation to the NBHA world championships.

“She was very excited,” Christy said. “She even told the NBHA people that that was her greatest barrel racing moment.”

Barrel racing is something of a family tradition, now. Charleigh’s mother had been barrel racing all her life when she passed the practice down to her daughter, then age 6. Christy said they usually practice three times a week, though school can often cut into her practice time.

Charleigh also spends a lot of time looking after her partner, a 9-year-old leopard appaloosa named Polka Dot.

“They’re weird, but very fun animals,” Charleigh said, “You have to at least clean their feet out once a week. You have to brush them. It takes a lot of work. … We have to feed them, every single morning. … At night, we put them in a barn, clean stalls and feed them. … brush them and talk to them.”

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” Christy said.

Charleigh said she races about twice a month year-round, though things slow down during the winter months. She’s looking forward to the Turkey Twerk 4-D Barrel Race in Meridian on Nov. 29.

“I’m proud of her accomplishments. She wakes up, the first thing out of her mouth is horse, and the time she goes to bed she talks horse,” Christy said. “She eats, sleeps, walks and talks horse. … I didn’t think anybody could love them more than me, but she does.”