WORTHINGTON, W.Va (WBOY) — A Marion County girl is headed back to the National Barrel Horse Association Youth & Teen World Championship in Perry, Georgia.

Kiera Heflin and her horse, Sugar, competed at the world championship in 2021. The duo qualified for the competition again in 2022 and are hoping for a better outcome.

Heflin said this time around she’s been preparing for the competition by riding a lot more and making sure that Sugar is faster.

“When people ride horses, you’re onto of a 1,200-pound animal that has a mind of its own. It’s kind of scary and you don’t know what they’re going to do. You’re just hoping that they’re just going to trust you and listen to you the whole way,” Heflin said. “I think I’ve accomplished a lot this year. I think I’ve put my mindset just towards Sugar. I believed in her and she’s taking us to the top, and I hope that we’re going to stay there.”

Heflin has trained Sugar since she was just a few months old, and said they just click.

Heflin & Sugar (WBOY Image)

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 will be competing against thousands of other riders in the competition. She said a lot of the competitors are from other states like Texas, but she is proud to represent the wild and wonderful state.

“I’m from little ol’ West Virginia going to this big ol’ world championship show,” Heflin said. “I just want to show them what we got.”

The North Marion High School graduate will be attending Pierpont Community & Technical College in the fall. Heflin’s last year to qualify for the NBHA competition is in 2023, after that, she will age out. She plans to continue to ride even after her teen years.

“This is my passion. I love doing this. I’ll continue until I can’t ride anymore,” Heflin said.

The 2022 National Barrel Horse Association Youth & Teen World Championship begins on Sunday, Aug. 24.