By Polly Keary, Editor
The Washington State Quarter Horse Association throws a big party.
Earlier in the month, Monroe hosted one of the largest quarter horse shows on the West Coast, bringing hundreds of horses and riders from Alaska, Idaho, British Columbia and Oregon to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds Aug. 14-18 to compete in the American Quarter Horse Association Region One Championship Horse Show.
Adults competed for $100,000 in prizes, and youth, including about a dozen local riders, competed for national points and year-end prizes.
Region One of the AQHA includes Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington, and every two years, the Region One Championships move to a different state. This is the second year for Washington; last year the championships were held in Spanaway.
This year the Evergreen State Fairgrounds were picked, which meant a big pre-fair boost to the local economy, and some big opportunities for local young riders.
There are only about 12 members of the local chapter of the Washington State Youth Quarter Horse Association, but they got a chance to compete with about 200 other young riders from all over the region during the four-day event.
Among the local riders was Lily Richardson, 10, the youngest member of the state organization, who has been the Washington State Champion for riders 10 and under two years in a row.
“Lily has a long day ahead of her,” said her mother, Deanna Hobbs, the second day of the event. “Region One is a huge show. For instance, Lily is in trail riding today, and that won’t be until 9:30 tonight.”
Events started early and went on late into the evening.
But for once, Lily and family could go home to their own beds afterwards.
“This year we are super happy not to be in a hotel,” said Hobbs. “We’ve traveled seven or eight times.”
The kids who compete can win in ways that will benefit them far into the future.
“Some have gone on to get equestrian scholarships to college teams,” said Hobbs. “It’s great for my girl to see college scouts at the world show.”
Local trainer and riding teacher Page Stroud said that Monroe won the right to host through a selection process that takes into account the size of the facility available, among other factors.
In fact, Monroe has become host to two of the four largest annual quarter horse events on the West Coast. The largest event is the Summer Circuit in Central Point, Ore., followed by the Trophy Circuit in Monroe. In third is the Sun and Surf circuit in Del Mar., Calif., and the fourth is the Emerald Circuit, also in Monroe.