Kelly Yates’s Best Barrel Racing Bits

Having ridden countless winning barrel horses during her career, Kelly Yates talks about a few of the favorite bits in her collection that compliment different types of barrel racing needs.

Having ridden countless winning barrel horses during her career, Kelly Yates talks about a few of the favorite bits in her collection that compliment different types of barrel racing needs.

“It just depends on how fast we’re going as to what type [of bit] I’m going to need,” said multiple National Finals Rodeo qualifier and many-time Mountain States Circuit champion barrel racer, and unoffical expert in barrel racing bits, Kelly Yates. “And, also the horse.”

Known for her light-handed, smooth style that consistently delivers winning runs, Yates shared with us a few of her favorite bits and why she likes the results they help produce. 

For a horse that wants to overbend, Yates has had great success in the medium shanked ported bit below. 

“It’s kind of a neat bit because it gives you a little bend, but it doesn’t make them stiff to where they won’t come around [the barrel]. I have used this bit an awful lot,” she said.

Yates next pointed to a shorter shanked bit with a rubber mouthpiece seen frequently in the world of English riding. 

“This is an English bit but this bit will straighten a horse up a lot,” said Yates. “It will make them a lot more fluid in their turn instead of being too bendy to where it takes them so long to get around a barrel.”

Quick Bit Tip With Kim Schulze

Another good tool for gaining straightness in the turn—if you need it—without getting a horse too rigid is a hackamore. 

“I have used this a lot,” Yates said. 

“I also like a combination,” she said. “If you have a horse that wants to root, you can put a little noseband on and you can get a little more respect where they’ll set and turn a little easier.”

Kelly Yates and Fiestanozshezfamous, also known as “Gucci.” Photo by Hubbell Rodeo Photos

For more extensive training tips with Kelly Yates and other knowledgable professionals, check out BarrelRacing.com.

About Bonnie Wheatley

Bonnie Wheatley brings a lifetime of professional experience in the Western industry to her role as Barrel Racing Content Director for BarrelRacing.com and Barrel Racing Magazine. She grew up immersed in ranching and the Western lifestyle before graduating from the University of California at Davis and relocating to the eastern plains of Colorado. When not researching and writing exciting new content, Wheatley enjoys running barrels, showing reined cow horses, cheering at her daughter Sage’s sporting events, and for her husband, Scot, and son, Regan, at team ropings and horse shows.