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.