Central Otago western rider Amanda Voice is back in the saddle on home ground after competing in the American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Cup (AQHA) in Texas.
Amanda (15), who is a year 11 pupil at Maniototo Area School, returned home with medals for ninth place in cutting and equitation disciplines.
The New Zealand team was placed ninth overall, out of 16 countries.
Amanda, who also competed in showmanship, hunter under saddle and ranch riding, was one of five riders in the New Zealand team.
The team spent its first week in Fort Worth, near Houston, with a range of horse trainers, before competing at Bryan-College Station on horses donated to the station.
“We had some really good horses and some very challenging horses.”
Amanda said meeting other young riders from around the world and mastering the art of riding a challenging horse were among the aspects she enjoyed most.
“It was satisfying getting them to work correctly.”
The temperature, which reached about 44degC, was one of the least enjoyable aspects, she said.
Amanda, who has been riding “all her life”, decided to focus on western riding six years ago.
“I told my mum I want to be a cowgirl,” she said.
Amanda has a range of events around the country on her western riding itinerary for the rest of this year, including competitions in the North Island, where she will represent the Otago Western Riding Club.
She encourages other youngsters to consider taking up the sport.
“I hope that my success internationally has inspired other rural kids.
“I know, for me, it’s very daunting being so far away from everything that goes on, but I’m just inspired by the other kids [who show] you can do it – you just need to be dedicated.”