Riley Smith saddles up in October
John Willoughby, ECB Publishing, Inc.
Riley Smith, a freshman at Aucilla Christian Academy (ACA), is set to compete in the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) World Championships beginning Oct. 28 through Nov. 3, at the Georgia National Fairgrounds, in Perry, Ga.
14-year-old Riley Smith, of Madison, began competing in February of 2017 in the Florida 01 District of NBHA, with the help of Dana Morgan. Prior to that, Taylor Killingsworth taught Riley the barrel pattern and took her to a few shows. She became interested in horse riding by spending time with her Aunt and Uncle Marie and Travis Smith. Riley began lessons at the age of 10 and entered a few rodeos with her cousin Blaine Smith.
Ab and Vicki Townsend were instrumental in Riley's upbringing in the lifestyle of horse riding. Riley was fortunate to ride the Townsend's horse “Frost.” Bo b Greiner also let Riley use his barn for her first horse.
From July 21 to July 28, Riley competed in the NBHA Youth World Championships, which took place in Perry, Ga. According to Chandra Smith, Riley's mother, out of 925 riders, Riley was in the top 200. Qualifying herself into the finals on Saturday, July 28, Riley and her horse, Lacy, ran a 16.162. This resulted in a fourth-place finish in the 4D Class Teen Second Go qualifier that advanced her to round two, division four of the finals on Saturday, July 28. During the race, however, Riley did not set a time as she hit a barrel. According to Smith, Riley was motivated by the “big show” experience to continue and focus on barrel racing. “Horse riding has given her direction and confidence,” said Gareth Smith, Riley's father. “It is also great to be around other families in rodeo and barrel racing that are willing to help and cheer for each other to do their best.”
In fact, at the end of October and into the early days of November, Riley will be in the company of hundreds – possibly thousands of riders – of all ages, races and nationalities, as she competes in the NBHA Word Championships at the Georgia National Fairgrounds, in Perry, Ga. The estimated payout in cash and prizes is over $300,000 and according to the Georgia National Fairgrounds, an estimated crowd of approximately 65,000 is expected.
“I had such a great time at NBHA Youth World Championships this summer,” said Riley. “It was great to compete with so many awesome riders and horses. Making it to the finals was so exciting and I am thankful for everyone that helped me.”
The NBHA is the largest barrel racing organization in the world, headquartered in Augusta, Ga., whose purpose is to promote the sport of barrel racing and it's local, state, national and international growth. With over 23,000 members of all ages across the twelve countries: Australia, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Switzerland, Panama, the Netherlands, China and Spain.
“Riley has been blessed to have much help from friends and family in our community with her horse riding,” said Chandra. “Gareth and I did not grow up with horses but are quickly learning that it is a lifestyle and big commitment if you want to be on a competitive level.”
Riley works hard nearly every single day to care for, feed and ride her horses. She looks forward to competing at the high school level this year in regional junior rodeos. She will also continue to compete in local NBHA shows. In addition to competing, Riley plays volleyball at ACA and enjoys hunting and fishing. Riley is the daughter of Gareth and Chandra Smith, of Madison.