July 31

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NBHA Youth World Finals opening ceremony. (photo by Sarai Angelle)

Today was an action packed day here in Jackson, Miss.! The final go for both Youth and Teen riders left us with 300 contestants and only 10 chances to be called an NBHA Youth World Champion!

We opened with a fantastic ceremony. The presentation of the American flag and singing of the national anthem was wonderful. Each contestant’s name was called as they touched the NBHA and went off to prepare for their Final’s runs. The flaming NBHA symbol lit up the darkened arena while spotlights flashed across the stands.

The Youth finals, with exactly 153 riders, ended with Brian Wheeler as the 1D champion. Brian clocked a speedy time of 15.024 to sweep the competition.

The Teen finals was a race to the finish. Sarah McDonald held the lead with a 14.794 until the last 10 riders, when Trevor Pruett came in and ran a smoking 14.742 to take the lead and title of Teen 1D champion.

Today marks the end of another NBHA Youth World Championships. Friends and memories have been made, fast times have been run and good times have been had. As a week of hard work draws to an end, I know there are kids who are already counting down the days until we return to Jackson again!

Check back tomorrow for official placings!

Sarai Angelle


July 30

Late last night, the Youth second go ended with J.R. Sullivan as the winner with a time of 14.916. Today, we continue into the Teen second go. Our current leader is Lauren Underwood, with a blazing fast 14.763!

There are nearly 300 riders left in the Teen second go, so we will be racing late into the night.

While we’ve been having fun this week, sometimes it’s hard to remember how dangerous this sport can be. Unfortunately, last night, teen rider Amber Matkovich’s horse, Boss Lady River, broke it’s leg while running into the arena. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Matkovich family as they deal with this tragic accident. If you would like to donate a contribution to help the Matkovich family with medical costs, please contact the NBHA national office.

Hug your horse, and when you count your blessings, count them twice.

Tomorrow will begin the start of the Youth and Teen finals! The grand entry of contestants will begin at 1 p.m. There is already a general air of excitement as those who qualified get ready to make their finals run. Each group will have 150 riders competing for the title of NBHA youth champion.

Good luck to all contestants and may the fastest horse win!

Sarai Angelle


July 29

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The state spirit contest. (photo by Sarai Angelle)

The youth second go is slowly drawing to a close. Our current leader is Paris Jean, with a 14.923.

There are approximately 300 more youth riders to go before the start of the teen second go.

The coliseum is a little quieter than normal this morning. We’re all worn out after the spirit parade. The arena was filled with fantastic themes and costumes from all the states, not to mention ear-splitting air horns, kamikaze candy being flung into the stands and lots and lots of screaming. The best part though was all the fun!

Our spirit parade first place winners came from the great state of Louisiana. With a theme sporting the New Orleans Saints slogan “Who Dat,” the Louisiana contestants outplayed the competition! They received $300 in prize money for their state office.

In other good news the NBHA national office announced that the contestants have raised over $1,500 in donations for breast cancer awareness this week! So here is a shout out to all those who donated. You make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

The night ended with Sarah McDonald from Georgia as our Coke race champion! She posted a blazing 7-second run that had the entire crowd on their feet.

Martha Josey provided a great sit-in clinic for all the contestants last night. The legendary barrel racer was both encouraging and inspirational, as she gave insight into the details that go into barrel racing on and off the horse.

Check back for more NBHA Youth World Championship news!

Sarai Angelle


July 28

Today, the Teen first go came to a finish with an astounding total of 1,070 riders. Our Teen first go winner is Jessie Fish, with a smoking time of 14.831. Emily Efurd was not far from winning herself. The Texas cowgirl clocked an impressive 14.689, but unfortunately she hit the second barrel.

The day’s not over. The Youth second go has already started and will continue tomorrow afternoon.

Right now, everyone is looking forward to the second round rally! Tonight, the arena will be filled with people for the states parade, as contestants try to represent their state and become winners of the spirit contest. This is undoubtedly one of the most fun events here at the NBHA Youth World Championships. There is no end to the creativity that will be seen amongst the contestants as they march across the arena.

The infamous Coke race will also take place tonight. A rider from each state will attempt to grab a Coke bottle off the top of a barrel while on horse back. The winner is the rider with the fastest time. I can tell you from first-hand experience that we will all have lost at least half our voices by the end of the night just from cheering!

Last for today’s events, but certainly not least, will be the sit-in with the legendary Martha Josey. Contestants will have a chance to listen and learn from one of the best barrel racers in history. It will definitely be a memorable moment for many of the kids competing here this week.

So here is to a long, late night that we won’t be forgetting anytime soon, and it hasn’t even started!

Sarai Angelle


July 27



Life at the NBHA Youth World. (photo by Sarai Angelle)

Last night the youth first go came to a close with Dalton Bekuns’ 14.937 holding the lead to the finish! Today, the teen first go started bright and early, and the fairgrounds are busy and bustling with riders.

Our current leader is Katie Brown with a 15.158.

Barrel racing isn’t the only thing that’s been entertaining all of us here at the NBHA Youth World Championships. Last night at the Miss. State party, singer Jeff Barnes from Augusta, Ga., provided a lively Elvis rendition that wowed the crowd. Jeff’s performance included serenading innocent by standers, including myself, resulting in laughs and fun times for everyone.

However, the most important performances belonged to the NBHA idols! The talent show was the talk of the night. This title of Idol Champion and $300 in prize money was given to Madison Particulierement simple deacces aussi, il suffit, comme e la casino roulette , de miser sur un numero : le 1, le 2, le 5, le 10, le 20 ou le 40. Blackmon, of Benson, N.C., who turned 11 today. Talk about one heck of a birthday present!

While other contestants impressed the judges with their singing, Madison tapped her way to the top. She’s been tap dancing since she was four, and tonight her talent let her shine.

“I’m really excited!” Madison said. “I’d like to thank my family. They really supported me, and I’d like to thank Alicia’s dance studio.”

Madison’s parents, Kim and Dale Blackmon, and sister, Katie Pfeil, were  also present for the win, and they could not be prouder. When asked what she would do with her winnings, Madison promptly said that she would “probably buysomething for her horse.”

Spoken like a true  cowgirl.

Tune in tomorrow for more NBHA Youth World updates!

Sarai Angelle


July 26

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Elena Thompson, Lollipop and Colby Burgess. (photo by Sarai Angelle)

Monday brings us to the last half of the youth first go here in Jackson, Miss. Our current youth leader is Dalton Bekuns, with a blazing fast time of 14.937, the first 14 of the week.

Tomorrow morning, the teens will follow in the wake of the youth riders, getting their first chance to be crowned as an NBHA Youth Champion.

Meanwhile, back in the warm up pen many other riders are waiting their turn to make that winning run. Eight-year-old Colby Burgess, from Mantee, Miss., was sitting with his family while the contestants before him were called into the holding cell when I ran into him. Like many  of the riders at the Youth World Championships, Colby is all about  “winning and having fun.” However, sitting on his horse, Lollipop, Colby also wisely reminds us that it’s important to “ride good and stay on!”

“It’s about having a good time,” said Colby’s mom, Elena Thompson. “The fellowship and having fun, that’s what it’s all about.”

And she couldn’t be more right. The NBHA Youth World Championship is the chance for hundreds of kids to shine when they get in that arena, but it’s also a chance to meet new people, to make friends and enjoy the experience of a lifetime that you can only get when surrounded by people who love the sport of barrel racing as much as you do. It’s about making memories on the back of a horse and off of it, and as this week continues, we’ll be doing just that!

Sarai Angelle


July 25

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Sarai Angelle. (photo by horsesnmotion.com)

It’s that time of year again. Kids from all across the country, and some from outside it, are all headed in the same direction to Jackson, Miss., for the NBHA Youth World Championships.

It’s Sunday, and the Mississippi State Fairgrounds are already busy. Some families have been here since early in the week—others are still rolling in. You’d think that with the thunderstorm that blew through last night would slow any normal person down, but the enthusiasm and the energy in all the kids and parents is spreading like wildfire, and a little bit of rain isn’t stopping anyone.

Contestants are using the open arena to their advantage before the start of the youth first go this afternoon. Since seven this morning, hundreds of kids have been in and out of the arena and warm up areas, getting in those last minute preparations.

The atmosphere is nothing short of exciting! With a frisbee toss contest before the start of the first go, opportunities to make friends—and not to mention all the shopping—how could it be anything else?

As the start of the week-long championship race begins, 1,700 teen and youth barrel racers will pass through the doors of coliseum. Hard work, dedication and perserverence is what got them here. And those same things will be the reason every single one of those 1,700 hundred kids, from California to West Virginia, Canada to Australia or Texas to Wyoming, are already champions before the race has even run.

So here’s looking forward to a long week of fun, running fast and winning big!

Sarai Angelle


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