AG Sophomore Wins World AQHA Championship

Larken Jones competing with her mare Excitabull Lady

EKU Pre-Vet sophomore Larken Jones brought home the hardware from the 2016 Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show held Nov. 3-19. Jones and her mare Excitabull Lady traveled from Berea, Ky., to Oklahoma City, Okla., to become the 2016 Amateur Stake Race World Champion.

Jones and Excitabull Lady competed against owners and horses from states including Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Riders accumulate points at AQHA events throughout the year, hoping to qualify for this competition. Points are based on placing at these events, as well as how many horses one submits in the show. In 2016, Jones qualified to compete at Worlds in four events; amateur stake race, amateur poles, senior poles and amateur barrels.

It’s no wonder Jones has such a great record of achievement when she’s been competing since a young age. “I have been riding since I was about 8 years old. I started out just trail riding and riding around the house then I went to my first show to compete when I was 9 years old and I've been hooked ever since. I absolutely love every second of it!”

The competition can sometimes be stiff, even in the early qualifying rounds. There are 15 students in Jones’ amateur stake class and 48 in amateur barrels with 32 in amateur pole bending. Jones went on to claim 1st place at Worlds in amateur stake race on her horse Excitabull Lady, which gave them the World Champion title. She also placed 5th in the preliminary competition of amateur poles, bending level 3, on Excitabull Lady, and they placed 6th in the finals. She also placed 4th in amateur barrel racing on another horse, Time on the Money. 

Jones’ love for her horses and other farm animals carries over into her classwork at EKU; as a pre-vet major, she’s learning about animals every day. “I chose pre-vet because I've always had a love for animals and the want to care for them ever since I was young. I want to be able to care for sick and injured animals and see the happiness on the owners face when you help their loved pet and be able to be there for the owners in time of grief,” explains Jones.

Pre-Vet advisor Dr. Andrea Sexten has high praise for her student. "Larken is talented in and out of the classroom, she balances a tough schedule of classes while also working at Meadowbrook farm. Larken has a good head on her shoulders, and she impresses me with her ability to not only balance all her responsibilities but to achieve such high honors in all areas. She has excelled due to her dedication, superior work ethic, and professionalism.  I have no doubt that Larken will be successful in anything that she sets her mind to.”

Dr. Carla Hagan agrees Larken is talented. "We have so many Agriculture students that ride and some that compete. But Larken is the first Agriculture student I know of to achieve at this level. Larken is not only talented in the arena but also in the classroom. She does a fantastic job of balancing her training and competition, farm work, and our classroom expectations."

When asked 'Why EKU?", Jones said, “I chose Eastern Kentucky University because it is small and in my hometown of Richmond, Ky. This gave me the opportunity to continue riding and showing my horses, being only 5-10 minutes from my house. I get to live at home with my animals and my family.”

Find out more about EKU's AG Pre-Vet program at www.agriculture.eku.edu.

Published on November 21, 2016

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