STARKVILLE — To find out how important packed dirt is on a rodeo floor, just ask a barrel racer whose horse has just fallen in a timed event.
Riders recently named the Mississippi Horse Park at Mississippi State University as a “best footing” arena for barrel racing in the Southeastern circuit. The circuit consists of nine states and 26 professional rodeos. The cowgirls of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association vote on this award at the end of the rodeo season. The awards ceremony took place at the Wrangler Nation Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas on Dec. 5.
“For the Mississippi Horse Park staff, it has always been important to be the very best we could be,” said Bricklee Miller, director of the MSU facility. “We are very grateful this high standard has gotten us recognized throughout the years.”
Three rodeos in each of the national circuits are honored with the Justin Best Footing Award annually.
Miller said the types of rodeos considered include large, weeklong events with big prize monies, indoor rodeos, outdoor venues, and small grassroots rodeos, such as those held at the Mississippi Horse Park.
“We are proud of the fact that we have good dirt and protect the surface by not allowing foreign substances on our arena ground like hay or shavings. We also work, water and maintain it weekly,” she said. “If you are a true horse facility, your footing is the most important aspect of your operation.”
Miller said the Mississippi Horse Park hosted three “super show” barrel racing events and one professional rodeo last year. Additionally, they hosted a Mississippi High School Rodeo event.