Pretty girls, fast horses, big rigs, and rhinestones – that’s what you’ll see at Spurr Ranch’s Nutrena SafeChoice Barrel Race this weekend. It’s a three day buckle series with great prizes and nice payouts. I was there Friday night and Saturday cheering on Nikki and Cayman and taking in the scene.
Spurr Ranch is out in Shandon, CA and right off of 46 and super easy to get to. Take 46 east out of Paso Robles (by the fairgrounds) and Spurr will be on your left about 19 miles out. Pro Tip: if you visit, don’t turn left into the place, go down about a mile and there’s a left turn lane to help you turn around a rig and then a right into the Ranch.
When you enter during one of these big race weekends you’ll most likely be greeted by a sea of huge dreamy trucks and trailers, each bigger than the last. If your like Nikki and I, it’s a good time just looking at all of the big dually and Bloomers and saying ‘we’ll have one like that someday.’ Find a spot to park, and you’re golden. They offer the ability to stay all weekend and have corrals for the horses or you can bring your own.
The races at Spurr are a standard size barrel pattern with a ‘4D’ placement system, which is pretty standard for barrel races. Basically, that means there are first and other placings in 4 divisions based in time groups off of the fastest time. Fastest time there at Spurr run in the mid-16-second range. They pay out pretty well so if you’re ‘in the money’ you’re going to go home happy. First in the 1D on Saturday payed out around $700 or so. They also have other smaller divisions like youth and senior and futurity for the younger horses.
Friday nights start at 6 or 7pm – which is nice if you’re in the 9-5 crowd like me, you can just head home from work, hook up the trailer, and go. If you do it that way, you’ll be in the ‘late draw’ meaning you won’t make your run until later in the night, but it’s good to just sit back as watch the other competitors and have some dinner and a beer (BYOB by the way). Spurr has a good seating area on either side of the arena entry gate with risers and some chairs provided. You can of course bring your own if you’re looking for something cushier. We didn’t leave until about 10pm on Friday, but they have a nicely lit arena and the nights stay pretty warm out there in the summer.
Speaking if dinner, Spurr boasts some of the best horse show grub around if you ask me. $8 gets you a pretty delicious cheeseburger, seasoned fries, and a soda. They’re also famous for their baked potatoes and have good sides like mac and cheese and quesadillas. They do breakfasts on Saturdays and Sundays too, with burritos and biscuits and gravy.
Back on Saturday for a full day of racing. Get there early for the time onlys, they go from 7-8:30, but there’s always a good size line. The race starts promptly at 8:30 and with over 240 entries in the open, it went pretty much all day. Spurr keeps they ground really well with drags every 5 riders and big drags (with water added) every 40. As your waiting for your turn, there’s plenty to do with the vendors that they have. Visit with event sponsors like Nutrena and Formula 1, whose owner Louis is happy to chat about the great results barrel racers are seeing with his products. There’s also a tack vendor or two where you can get new bridal or some of the latest cowgirl fashions. Another pro tip, it gets REALLY hot out there in the desert, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
After a full day of racing and enjoying the atmosphere we left the place at around 6pm and promptly picked up some ice cream. The final races are today (Sunday) and I’m sure it’s another day of good times and stuff competition. Keep tabs on Spurr Ranch on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SpurrRanch for info on their upcoming races. November boasts a huge race there and SLOHN will be there for sure.