Some of the world’s best young horse handlers are preparing to strut their stuff as Oklahoma City gets set to host the 2009 American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show. The 37th edition of the world’s largest single-breed show — which is free to the public — starts Friday at State Fair Park and wraps up Aug. 8. Nearly 900 participants from five countries will compete in 33 events. Some contestants hail from as far away as Kleinmachnow, Germany, and seven competitors are from Canada. There will also be less strenuous competitions at the event. A horse quiz show, talent show and speech competition will take place. But no matter the event, the competitors all have the same goal in mind: becoming a world champion. "Everybody comes together and has a good time competing a little bit, and then when it’s over we’re just a big group of friends,” said Austin Halvorson, a 13-year-old resident of Guthrie, who is the defending champion in the aged mare event. This year will mark Austin’s fourth time competing in the Youth World Championship Show. He got into horsemanship because of his family. His sister, Lauren Halvorson, 18, started competing when she was 9 and has won the aged mare competition. Lauren Halvorson has been in Pilot Point, Texas, for the past few weeks training about five hours per day for the four events she’ll compete in. She said hopes to win first place so she can have the bragging rights of being the most recent world champion in her family. "I’m out there to win. Every year, it’s what I work for, and if I don’t do well then that motivates me even more for the next year,” she said. "It’s always fun, I just have more fun when I’m winning.” There are attractions for people who aren’t competing at the event. A trade show will take place each day at the Cox Pavilion. Vendors will be on hand to offer everything from clothing to trailers and pickups, said Luann Ulrich, assistant manager of communications for the American Quarter Horse Association. But the main attraction will be the competitive events where there’s a lot at stake. Not only will the winner of each event get a gold trophy, gold medallion, Montana Silversmith’s belt buckle, Cripple Creek jacket and other prizes, but they get a distinction that few can lay claim to. "The ability to win a youth world championship title is a big thing,” Ulrich said. "To be the best in your event out of all youth participants, that’s a big honor.”Comments
At a glance
Events start each day at 8 a.m. at State Fair Arena and run until roughly 7 p.m. A trade show will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the Cox Pavilion. All events are free. Competitive events include cutting, team penning, barrel racing, pole bending, tie-down roping, heeling, heading, reining, showmanship, jumping and 23 others. For more information, go to www.aqha.com or call (806) 376-4811.