The need for speed
Gwinnett youth participate in barrel racing competition

LAWRENCEVILLE - Shiloh Horse Ranch produces champions, and not only champion speed horses. The youth there who compete in barrel racing have racked up plenty of ribbons, belt buckles and awards.

The Loganville ranch, owned by John and Jo Anne Thistle, offers the opportunity for young people to compete with the Shiloh Horse Ranch Equestrian Team.

"We're a lot better known out west than we are here because we do running events, and that's typically something that's done out west," John Thistle said. Running events include barrel racing, pole bending and stake racing. "You go as fast as you can and whether you win or lose is based on a laser timer," he added.

Thistle said barrel racing is more popular in Texas and Oklahoma, with those states typically dominating competitions, but Shiloh's youth have moved into the spotlight.

On Saturday, the equestrian team will compete in the American Paint Horse Association Southeast Flying Paints Show at Criswell Park in Monroe, and at least two Gwinnett riders will saddle up for the competition.

Ashley Tidwell, 18, a Brookwood High School senior and Lawrenceville resident, has been barrel racing for two and a half years and will be riding a horse named Easy in Saturday's competition.

Snellville resident Jessica Williamson is a seasoned youth barrel racer, having competed for 6 years. The 15-year-old South Gwinnett student will be riding a horse named Lynx.

"This is about grooming character," Thistle said of Shiloh's barrel racing program. "I really believe winning is a byproduct of character."

Saturday's competition is set to begin at 1 p.m. For more information on the event or Shiloh Horse Ranch, visit www.shilohhorseranch.com.

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