North Marion High School student competes in world championship barrel race


RACHEL, W.Va. – A North Marion High School senior is riding her way to a championship. 

Kiera Heflin has been barreling racing since she was six years old. On Thursday, she competed at the 2021 NBHA Youth & Teen World Championship in Georgia.  

Kiera Heflin and her horse Sugar

In a barrel racing competition, each rider rides around three barrels in an arena on their horse. Riders strive to keep all barrels standing and have the fastest time.  

Heflin competed with her horse “Sugar,” who she trained herself.  

“I love her to death,” Heflin said about Sugar. “She’s very, very tall. We got her because her dad was very, very short so she’s supposed to be my grandma’s horse, but I kind of just took her over the older she got. And I started working with her and playing with her and I was like ‘wow I really love this horse.’” 

Heflin said a lot of hard work went into getting to this competition, but she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  

“Whenever I get on a horse I feel free and just happy to be on this earth,” Heflin said. “It’s just a thing that you do that you can’t do anywhere else. You feel like a different person. You feel like you can just be yourself no matter what.” 

“The smile on her face and her having a blast is all that matters,” Jessika Heflin, Kiera’s mom said. “I am super proud of her and Sugar. Sugar is a young horse and with this big of a show is being such a good girl.” 

Around 1,300 people started in the first round of the competition. The winner will be decided on Saturday, July 24. 

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