Jump to: navigation, search

Keyhole race

A Keyhole race is a speed event commonly seen at equestrian events and gymkhanas, in which the horse and rider team with the fastest time in completing the event wins. Horses running this event must have speed, but also the agility to stop quickly in full stride, turn, and bolt directly back into a run.


The obstacle course is a pattern, usually marked with white powder (commonly flour or powdered chalk) poured into a "keyhole" shape in the dirt. The pattern varies between events. According to the California Gymkhana Association, the pattern should be set up as follows:

  • 80 feet from arena gate to timing line.
  • 100 feet from timing line to center of keyhole.
  • Keyhole should be four feet across at the entrance, 10 feet from the entrance of the key hole to the bulb.
  • The bulb itself should be 20 feet across.
  • The pattern may also be made of cones or poles set up in a similar pattern.


The event begins when the horse and rider cross the timing line. The team enters the keyhole at a gallop, then turns in either direction inside the keyhole's circle without stepping over the chalk.The horse and the rider turns as fast as they can in the bulb. The team then exits the keyhole again at a gallop and the time ends once they cross the timing line.

Winning times for this event range from 5 to 10 seconds.

Penalties may be applied to a team's time. Each gymkhana or event may operate under different rules and therefore the penalties may be different. Penalties may include adding five seconds to the team's time, or may even be enough to disqualify the contestant completely.

External links


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...