From 813 youth contestants and 1,107 teen contestants after two long rounds the finals round numbers were narrowed down to a mere 136 youth and 188 teens. These contestants moved on to the short round with the goal of earning a world championship. Each contestant worthy of recognition, but only a select few in each division of each age class were able to collect.
In true NBHA fashion the NBHA Youth World Championships finals round began with an energetic introduction of the flags of the countries represented in this week. The contestants lined the walls of the arena and as each was introduced they took part in the ceremonious touching of the barrel, before setting their full focus on a world championship.
The day began with the young guns of the NBHA; the youth race. Rio Flaharty, Tryon, Okla., was the first youth in the round to post a sub-15-second run. Riding The Wonder Bug the 13-year-old took the early lead in the round with a 14.823. Nine runs later the pace was set again by Emilee Jackson riding This Girls Got Speed when she posted a 14.726.
The youth competition was tough, to say the least, but when all the times were posted it was Michael Duffie riding ReClaim Fame who stood on the champion’s stage. The Williamston, S.C., team turned in a time of 14.676 to earn first place in the 1D, worth $2,732.
The 13-year-old exhibits true cowboy character, although extremely excited about his win he handled the attention with class and grace beyond his years. It is easy to see the young cowboy is well on his way to becoming a leader in the industry. The humble cowboy said he experienced a few moments of anxiety as he watch the tough competition edge toward his fast time. However, none were able to breach the pace he and his partner posted and the duo ultimately claimed the world championship.
“It was pretty fun,” Duffie said with a smile as he recalled his final round experience. “I was getting kind of worried at the end, because there was a lot of fast runs.”
Duffie expressed his appreciation for his horse and said his winnings from this event will be used to provide ReClaim Fame with the best care possible.
Second place in the 1D went to Jackson who earned $2,076. Third place went to Elaina Mckinney aboard Cool Memories with a time of 14.804, worth $1,420. Flaharty claimed the fourth place paycheck, worth $1,092.
The 2D finals round winner was Kenzie Cook riding Fletch N Flo to a time of 15.178, worth $2,243. In the 3D Jordan Harrell rode Six Pack Nick to a time of 15.714 to earn the first place check in the round worth $1,861. Karissa Landis and Cash took the fourth division first place paycheck of $1,480 with their time of 16.178. The 5D winner was Laney Huddleston riding Jodie’s Best to stop the clock in 16.688 seconds, worth $1,143.
Immediately following the youth competition the teenage contestants got their shot at championship titles. Allie Chouest, Cut Off, La., was on fire this week. The 15-year-old qualified four horses to the finals round, as well as earning multiple go round paychecks aboard those horses along the way. Ultimately, Chouest earned the NBHA Youth World Championship in the 1D of the teen division. Chouest rode her brother’s horse, VF Sporty Design to the championship paycheck worth $5,000. She also earned a fifth place paycheck aboard Buddy Rose when she crossed the timer’s line in 14.995 seconds, worth $2,468 and a fourth place finish in the 2D with a 15.116 aboard PLJ High Intedsity, worth $1,246.
From a spectator’s perspective Chouest’s abilities astride a horse seem effortless, however she says top-shelf horseflesh lends a helpful hand, along with a strong mental game.
“Sometimes I psych myself out and think about it too much,” Chouest said. “So, I just like to make my run in my head so I have a game plan for whenever I go in there.”
Chouest did exactly that during the final round and stayed true to her game plan.
“Just go in there and trust him. Let him work and not get in his way,” Chouest continued as she explained her game plan before the final run aboard VF Sporty Design. “You stay honest and he’ll say honest. He just loves his job.”
Elizabeth Broussard and Brand Me Lucky earned second place honors with a time of 14.942, worth $4,027. Chelsea Bartlett riding Briscosichieforcash took third place with a time of 14.974, worth $3,052.
The 2D champion was Tyler Crosby riding HM Cornerstone to a time of 15.097, worth $3,324. Taking home the 3D championship was Rylee Elliott riding Good Timin Pink with a time of 15.59, worth $2,752. The fourth division champions were Cassandra Chism and Josie posting a time of 16.122 to earn $2,180. Sydney Chapman and Leos Hancock Dixon took home the 5D championship with a time of 16.601 and claimed $1,648.
For the full coverage from this year’s NBHA Youth World Championships be sure to watch for the September issue of Barrel Horse News. For the complete results from the event visit nbha.com.