BY LAURA MCCANDLESS – STAFF WRITER
Kate Spencer has been around quarter horses, the most popular breed in the United States, her whole life.
“My mom rode and she and my dad are both big into horses so I’ve been riding since I could walk,” Spencer said, “but really [I’ve been] competing since I was five or six.”
Since then, riding has become far more than a hobby for Spencer, as she is currently leading the nation in the youth western pleasure.
“From January 1, I have the most youth western pleasure points of anyone in the country and then even around the world,” Spencer said. “You get points as you show, so I’ve accumulated the most points out of any other youth western pleasure rider.”
Spencer is also either third or fourth in the all around, meaning she has the most total points in several divisions in the American Quarter Horse Association. She has amassed over two hundred points, participating in the Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, and Showmanship events.
As an example, Spencer said in that in the Horsemanship, “they set up cones in a pattern and they give you a pattern.”
“You execute it and then you are judged on how well you sit, how well you executed the pattern, overall picture, presentation, and things like that,” she said.
Her success doesn’t end there, however; just a few years ago, Spencer won the Novice World in the Western Pleasure and was reserve in the pleasure at the American Paint Horse Association’s World Show.
“Paints is a breed that’s similar to quarter horses,” she said. “My horse was double registered…he had a belly spot so he qualified as a paint horse.”
At the level Spencer is at, riding is extremely time consuming. Though her events are not featured in the Olympic games, her level of training mirrors those competing at the Olympic level.
“My trainers are extremely demanding, physically, mentally, [and] emotionally. It’s very intense, but I love the horses,” she said.
While in high school she ran and did weight training at home and would reunite with her horse on the weekends to ride.
“I would leave Friday after school and come home Sunday evening, but that’s if we didn’t have a show,” Spencer said. “So then if we had a show, shows started on either Wednesday or Thursday and went all the way through Sunday. I would miss school and go up and show, and then come back home.”
Just driving to shows themselves takes up a great deal of time. Spencer has showed in: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.
Spencer has accomplished a great deal in horseback riding, but is now ready to focus on other things.
“I’m getting out of it now, [as I’m] too busy, but it was a big part of my life for a very long time,” she said.
But if she attacks college like she does horseback riding, expect big things to come over the next four years.