Vicksburg barrel racers have international dreams

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 29, 2002

Elizabeth McGehee, from left, Breanne Burr, Haley Nosser and Lindsey Nosser ride during practice for the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championships in Jackson, an event in which they will all compete. (The Vicksburg Post/JON GIFFIN)

[07/29/02]Most of the time, Lindsey and Haley Nosser, Breanne Burr and Elizabeth McGehee compete in barrel races for fun, ribbons, trophies, or a few hundred dollars in prize money.

This week, however, their attention will shift from small prizes to big money when they compete for their share of more than $160,000 in cash and prizes against racers from across the U.S. at the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championships in Jackson.

“It’s tougher when you’re running for money. You have more competition,” said Burr, 13.

In barrel racing, racers enter the arena and navigate turns around a series of barrels before returning to the arena entrance. The fastest time great racers and horses often finish the course in 14-15 seconds wins, although there are separate divisions for horses of different speeds.

Burr will compete along with McGehee in the youth division at the World Championships, while the Nosser sisters will run in the teen division. The four riders qualified for the World Championships by gaining points at other events throughout the year.

“It’s a big honor just to make it there,” said Haley Nosser, 16.

Although all four Vicksburg residents have been riding for several years and competed in dozens of events including last year’s Youth World Championships they said there is nothing like going for a world title.

“The biggest challenge for me is nerves. It’s easier to make a good, clean run when you’re not nervous,” said Lindsey Nosser, 19, who has also qualified for the Open World Championships in Augusta, Ga., in October. “When you’re under that much pressure and get to a place like that, it’s hard to succeed. There’s nothing else like it.”

Burr said the first time she competed at the Youth Worlds, she was so nervous her stomach hurt. She said racers have to get over that quickly, however, for the sake of their horses.

“If you’re nervous, they get nervous,” Burr said.

And if the prospect of a world championship wasn’t enough to get their nerves jingling, there’s the thought of the cash.

The prize money is added to the $100 entry fees of more than 1,400 racers, making for a huge payday if one of the Vicksburg quartet can overcome the odds and win it all.

“It’d probably be all of our dreams,” Lindsey Nosser said.

It’d also be a far cry from winning a ribbon or a new saddle, something Burr was quick to point out as she and Haley Nosser talked about competing at a 4-H Club event.

Haley Nosser won a state 4-H Club competition and passed up a chance to compete in the Club’s regional event to go to the Youth Worlds.

While talking about the prizes offered at each, Nosser pointed out that while no money is offered at the 4-H Club event, the winners do receive ribbons. Although Burr said she competes for the fun of it, she said she’d rather win cash than ribbons.

“Big deal,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve got plenty of those.”