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.