Region 4 Amateur Winner Brittany Barker
Brittany Barker of Edinburgh, Ind., grew up in a horse-loving family and started riding in 4-H at age 6. Now 22, Brittany has earned national recognition with one very special gelding. Always a top student, she's working toward a business degree and a mechanical engineering degree at Indiana University-Purdue University of Columbus, Ind., but still finds time for her horses and showing, including a trip to her Regional Experience in Columbus, Ohio.
Tell us about your horse.
My gelding Kay Cee Me Now is 16.2 hands and very well muscled, so we sometimes call him "Pork Chop." He was dark dappled gray, but now that he's 13, he's turning white. He's built so nicely that he's earned a lot of halter points. I've been showing him for about five years, and he's all business at shows. He's like working with a human--very intelligent and generally very sweet, but occasionally a little cranky and very picky. He's very smart, experienced and serious--and has saved me at some of our big shows when I get nervous. I show him in halter, showmanship, equitation, pleasure, horsemanship, western riding, trail and sometimes reining.
What has been your most memorable moment in the saddle?
Winning the amateur western riding class at the 2004 AQHA World Show. World Show competition is very tough--the best of the best who have qualified from across the nation. I'd been working toward this goal, and winning was a dream come true. The day before that class, Pork Chop was feeling fresh and frisky, but on the day that mattered, he was a pure professional.
Do you ride with a trainer?
I ride with Brent and Melissa Maxwell at Mil-Max Quarter Horses in West Mansfield, Ohio. They're a few hours away, so we leave Pork Chop with them most of the time. They've been phenomenal, the best thing to ever happen to me. I've been in many training barns, but this is the best. It just clicks for me.
Tell us about your Regional Experience win.
I won the Amateur All-Around championship, and the high-point prize of a TexTan saddle. I won many classes, including the amateur horsemanship, amateur western riding, amateur trail, senior trail, and senior western riding, but I was probably most excited about winning the amateur showmanship. Sometimes I can't pull myself together for that class, but I did that day. I was surprised at such good competition, and though I still got a little nervous, the atmosphere was friendly, laid back, and fun.
Would you recommend the Regional Experience to other show riders? To newcomers? Will you be back next year?
Show riders will love it. They'll experience a championship-format show with a great combination of elements of smaller shows and big national shows. It has the feel of the World Show and very respectable competition, yet it's less intense, and people are so friendly and helpful. For newcomers, it's a glimpse of what bigger shows are like, yet they have good opportunities for success, too. I would recommend it for anyone, and I look forward to coming back next year.
Region 4 Newcomer Katelyn Bittner
Katelyn Bittner of Hamilton, Ohio, is a 17-year-old senior at Talawanda High School. Her family owns five Quarter Horses, and Katelyn competed with three of them in barrel racing and pole bending at the 2006 Regional Experience in Columbus, Ohio. She competes regularly within a regional organization, but this was her first AQHA show. She had excellent results with all three horses, and she's set some new goals for herself.
Tell us about your horses.
I rode three different horses at the Regional Experience. GS Dashing Saint is a 4-year-old sorrel gelding that I won the junior barrel racing class with. I also rode his half brother, Takin On The Moon, a 9-year-old sorrel gelding, and won the novice youth barrel racing class on him. I also rode my 21-year-old gray mare, Sterling Red Ant, in the pole bending, and won two classes, novice youth pole bending and youth pole bending, on her.
What rider/clinician do you most admire and why?
Barrel racing legend Martha Josey. I attended one of her clinics and she and her husband and crew were so helpful and encouraging. I learned a lot--how to work with my horse better, how to improve our times, and tips for better turns.
Why do you ride Quarter Horses and what are your favorite characteristics of the breed?
They're the most versatile breed of horse. They can do just about anything, and they're the best in the events I ride in.
What was your most memorable Regional Experience moment?
Winning four belt buckles! They were the prizes given out to each class winner, and among my three horses, I won four classes. It was the biggest thrill because I remember hoping to win just one!
Do you want to show more, and will you be back at the Regional Experience?
Yes, I'll be showing more. In fact, next year I'm planning to attend some AQHA shows in hopes of qualifying for the AQHA World Show. I had a great time at the Regional Experience, and would definitely come back to it, too.