Riders from 49 states and nine countries are competing for $3.2 million in prize money in the American Quarter Horse Association's World Championship Show, which continues through Saturday at State Fair Park.
The competition features world-class horses and riders participating in some of the most challenging equestrian disciplines.
The show culminates on Saturday night with the finals of senior working cow horse, senior western pleasure, junior western riding and awarding of the title of “Superhorse” — the AQHA's equivalent of an MVP.
This year, the association offered two new classes of competition, ranch pleasure and boxing. The simple pattern of ranch pleasure allows riders to demonstrate their horses' handling, willingness and versatility. Boxing requires horse and rider to manage a single cow at one end of the arena.
Jim Bret Campbell, senior director of marketing and publications for the association, said that in recent years there has been an effort to broaden the base of the competition and open the show to new possibilities.
“I think that's really the philosophy of the AQHA,” said Jim Bret Campbell Senior Director of Marketing and Publications for AQHA. “Our horses are the most versatile in the world, so our association also needs to be versatile. “
Thirteen-year-old Hunter Bryant came all the way from Okeechobee, Fla., to compete at the World Show in the ranch pleasure class. Hunter managed to qualify, even though there's not yet an amateur or youth division. That meant he had to compete against adults, most of whom had been in the saddle a lot longer. It turns out his 4H experience gave him an advantage, according to this grandmother Suzanna Rucks, who came to Oklahoma City with him.