On top of the world

Published 11:30 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Huff and Darren Scholl are on the top of the world and, if horses are into that kind of thing, then Gay Bar Abby is right up there with them.

Summer and Abby won the National Barrel Horse Association’s 2011 ID Teen World Championship in Jackson, Mississippi last weekend.

Abby is owned by Darren Scholl, owner and operator of Gay Bar Abby Farms near Goshen.

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Summer was the fourth rider out in the finals of the NBHA Teen World Championship Saturday and recorded the best time in the finals to that point.

“Our time was 14.673 seconds, and we knew that probably was going to be the time to beat,” Scholl said. “It was the fastest time recorded all week long so everybody thought we had the title in the bag, except Summer and me. We knew it was not over until the last horse ran. But we also knew that somebody had to come beat us.”

Summer, 15, who is a Pensacola resident but rode for GBA Farms, competed in the 13 through 18 age group of 959 barrel racers.

“There were a lot of talented riders competing and they were riding some of the best horses anywhere,” Scholl said. “Parents buy the best horses for their kids so these kids were riding good horses and putting up good times. There were quite a few 14.7 times recorded over the 3,000 runs that brought us to the finals.”

Each contestant had only one run in the finals. Summer liked the fact that she rode early.

With 14.673 already in books, Summer knew she had a chance at the win but waiting it out was difficult.

“One time, Summer just had to walk out,” Scholl said with a smile.  “She said she just couldn’t take it. The last three or four riders had run 14.9s so we had to wait to be sure.”

However, Scholl said he felt rather confident that Summer’s and Abby’s time would hold.

“In barrel racing a faction of a second is a huge difference in time,” Scholl said. “So, with Summer and Abby recoding the fastest time of the championship, we were sure we had a shot at the championship.”

Scholl said he heard several parents tell their kids that they were running for second, “so don’t knock over a barrel.”

Even though some of the parents had conceded their championship to Summer and Abby, the rider and the owner were waiting to hear the fat lady sing.

And, when the dust had settled, Summer, Abby and Scholl were on top of the MBHA world.

“It was a great feeling,” Summer said. “I don’t know how to say how it really felt. But to be a world champion is exciting.”

A lot of hardware came with the win, along with $4,000 in prize money.

Summer won a horse trailer emblazoned with 2011 ID Teen World Champion, a saddle, belt buckles and other small items.

Scholl, laughingly said, Summer got to keep all the winnings but has promised to take him out for dinner.

Summer has been riding for most of her 15 years and is very comfortable in the saddle and running the barrels. She also runs poles and even favors them but knows that the barrels are her bread and butter.

As good a rider as Summer is, she realized that to win a world championship, she would need a champion horse.

To qualify for the World Championships, Summer had to place in the top fifteen in the Alabama 06 District competition in Bay Minette.

“I didn’t do good at all but I did good enough to qualify,” she said.

The times belong to the riders but they can qualify on any horse and Summer knew she needed a different horse to for the World Championships.

“I had seen Abby and I liked the way she ran,” Summer said. “She had a great spirit about her and she was consistent. I knew she would run good and I wanted to ride her.”

A few weeks after the Alabama 06 District competition, Scholl got a text message from Summer asking if he would allow her to ride Abby in the World Championships.

“I had to do a lot of thinking on that,” Scholl said.

“Abby is a good horse. Our farm is named after her. I just couldn’t let anybody ride her.”

But Scholl knew Summer and he knew that she was a good rider and knew how to appreciate and treat a horse so he gave his permission.

Summer came to stay at Gay Bar Abby Farm and train with Abby. She worked with Abby under Scholl’s guidance and supervision for about three weeks before heading to Jackson.

Summer and Abby had run in a couple of local shows in preparation for the “big show” and they thought they were ready.

“We made it through the qualifying rounds but didn’t do so good,” Summer said. “We came in fifth both rounds,” Summer said.

However, Scholl said Summer’s times were good times but a half second difference in times in barrel racing is a big time difference. The difference in times can be in one-hundredths of a second.

“A half second is a huge time to make up,” he said. “We had the opportunity to look at videos on Summer’s runs and I noticed that she was too wide in the alleyway. We worked on that and that made a big difference.”

“We fixed a few mistakes and I thought we had a chance,” Summer said.

There were 150 horses in the finals and Summer and Scholl had to sit through 146 riders before they would know for sure that Summer and Abby were Teen World Champions.

“When we got the good time of 14.673 seconds and that was the only 14.6 of the week, I felt good but I didn’t think we had it until the last rider was in,” Summer said with a smile.

Summer remains at GBA Farm, where she continues to work with Abby, a horse with several “big show” titles on her resume, including the NBHA event n Memphis and the NBHA Shamrock in Jackson.

“We’ll be going back to Jackson for the Mega Barrel Race which carries an $8,000 prize with it,” Scholl said. “Summer has a bright future as a barrel racer. She has what it takes to be a winner.”
And, Abby’s proven that she a winner, too. And, together Summer and Abby are a “dynamic duo.”