COBURG, Ore. — While many teenagers spend the summer swimming, playing tennis or just hanging out, two Eugene girls work at a very different kind of sport.
At Hartley Performance Horses two teenage girls train for the World Youth Championships in Oklahoma City in August.
In less than a month, Kyla Henninger and Megan Campbell will travel to the American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Show. They’ll be competing in three categories: reining, the working cow horse and the ranch pleasure.
Their coach, Robert Hartley, says both riders are highly skilled, but they’ve got a long road ahead of them.
“It’s pretty tough. Kids are coming from all over the United States, even the world. A lot of time they’ll get kids from Germany, Australia, Canada, Mexico, so it’s a big pond when you get back to Oklahoma City,” Hartley said.
Henninger, 18, recently graduated from Sheldon High School and says the key is to keep focus and not let the other riders get to you. She also says it’s important to look out for each other.
“We think it’s a team sport. Not a lot of people do. They kind of go out by themselves. All winning, it’s all they ever want and we treat our coaches and other members of our team as one of us. And if they win, we win,” Henninger said.
Campbell, 17, admits she gets nervous sometimes, but she does her best to stay focused and looks forward to showcasing her skills.
“Just to experience showing at a national level and just getting experience at a big show like this,” Campbell said.
The events are decided by five judges and both girls can expect at least a hundred riders in the first round.
Hartley says they both have a chance of doing well.
“They’re both excellent riders. They’ve both come a long ways,” Hartley said.
Before August, it’s a matter of fine tuning their skills.
Both Henninger and Campbell have been competing in horse shows for years; but both say, Oklahoma City will be their toughest challenge yet.