Saddling up to take on the world
TAMIKA Anderson and Melanie Stedman will represent Australia this month at the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championships from July 22 to 28.
The students will join former Gympie local Chelsea Bartlett as the only three Australian representatives at the competition, to be held at Perry, Georgia in the United States.
Bartlett, the daughter of Gympie Horse and Rodeo Association president Greg Bartlett, has moved permenately to the United States to follow her horsing career and Anderson and Stedman will fly out to join her on Wednesday.
There's no messing around for these three girls, who worked hard thoughout 2011 to chalk up enough points to make the Australian team, and have used the past six months to not only practice, but collect points for the 2013 World Championships.
Anderson, 16, and Stedman, 13, will spend one week practising on their horses before entering the ring.
The pair will lease horses from friends and industry professionals Mitch and Carolyn Shoemake.
The girls have both ridden the Shoemake's horses in training classes, making settling in with their new steeds easier.
Anderson's experience with the Shoemake stable goes beyond classes, as she has been riding their horses in the Youth World Championships for the past three years.
This is Stedman's first go at the championships after she blitzed the Aussie competition in only her first year of barrel racing in the NBHA.
While Anderson is an old hand when it comes to competing in the event, Stedman still has stars in her eyes.
"I'm nervous but really excited.
"I'm counting down the days," Stedman said.
Anderson will use the competition as valuable experience in a high-level competition.
"The US events are so much bigger than here.
"I'll be trying to improve myself," Anderson said.
Anderson said the key to barrel racing at this level was to focus on the job at hand before going into a race.
"You just need to hope for a clean run and not think of making the finals," she said.
Anderson said she may follow in Bartlett's footsteps and make the move to the US as the competition there was world-class and highly supported.
The pair flies out for the event Wednesday and can do so thanks to generous support of family members and local supporters including Trademark Signs, Mooloo Mountain Produce, Four-Mile Sandstone and Gympie State High School P and C.
Anderson will head back to the US in October for the Open World Championships.