Jess Shafranich and Whateva Fires You Up won Round 1 of the 2020 NBHA Youth World Championships. Photo by Tammy Sronce

Interview by Tammy Sronce with contributions from Barrel Horse News

Jess Shafranich and Whateva Fires You Up turned in a time of 14.757 in Round 1 of the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championships to win the 1D for $911, plus a qualification to the short round. 

Shafranich of Milroy, Pennsylvania, turned the 18-hour trek from Pennsylvania to Perry, Georgia, for the NBHA Youth World Championships into a memory she’ll never forget. Aboard her 5-year-old mare “GiGi” (Firewaterontherocks x Whateva x Dash Ta Fame), the teen achieved a lifelong goal of winning a round at Youth World.

“I’m ecstatic,” Shafranich said. “It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do my entire life, ever since I started [running barrels] and heard about Youth World. I’ve always wanted to come down here and win a round on one of my horses, especially one that I’ve done a lot of training on. It was a dream come true.”

The 14-year-old hasn’t been running barrels long but says it’s a journey she’s enjoyed. Over the course of about six years, she’s progressed into a 1D rider. Coming from a predominately non-horse family, Shafranich says working hard and great horses are the keys to success.

In the first round of the NBHA Youth World, Shafranich and GiGi turned in their round-winning time of 14.757. Shafranich said she knew going into the pen that her horse was focused but was still surprised by the final time.

“I was so impressed with her; I never thought she would do that. She felt so good; she felt like she wanted to run,” Shafranich said. “She snapped every turn and felt like she was really firing in there. When I came out and heard the time, I was so excited.”

With the first-round win, Shafranich earned a qualification to the short round, where she plans to take the same approach as she did with the first run.

“I just want to have fun,” Shafranich said. “She did awesome, and if she stays safe during her run and we both walk out of there and we can go again for another run, then I’ll be the happiest.”

NBHA Youth World Round 1 Winners

1D: 1) Jess Shafranich/ Whateva Fires You Up/14.757/$911; 2) Savannah Elrod/Tri Vodka Dry/15.085/$638.

2D: 1) Chloe Whitesel/Hickorys Pine Cone/15.287/$783

3D: 1) Josie Grubbs/Wiley/15.757/$655

4D: 1) Alyssa Czekai/Miracle Spirit Dance/16.259/$527

5D: 1) Audrey Graham/Endless Envy/16.758/$400

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