On a horse named Nagista, Shania Johnson rode off into the St. Paul horizon with a state championship in hand.
Johnson, a freshman at Crosby-Ironton, captured the Minnesota Junior State Championship for her age bracket Sept. 20 at the Nutrena 4-H State Horse Show at the Minnesota Fairgrounds.
It was her second 4-H state event and she went into it with a goal to win the barrel race. The 14-year old did more than that as she placed first in pole weaving, key hole and barrel racing on her way to winning the state title.
"I didn't really know there was a state title," Johnson said. "I was shocked. I was ready to leave and they came up to me and said I won the state title. We had to stick around for another hour."
Shania Johnson, on her horse Nagista, won the Minnesota Junior State Championship among eighth-graders Sept. 20 at the Nutrena 4-H State Horse Show in St. Paul.
Johnson, daughter of Bob and Ronnet Johnson, would have qualified for nationals if she was a year older.
She won the barrels in 16.771.
"I was very happy with barrels," said Johnson. "I had second fastest time out of every age group. I had some different techniques that I had been working on with my horse."
Johnson competed in the eighth-grade group, the last grade she completed, which included about 45 other riders. She also won the poles in 12.095 and the key race in 8.122 and finished fourth in jumping figure 8.
Johnson has been riding since she was a baby. Her mother rode and quickly introduced her daughter to riding. She didn't start competing in barrel racing until she got Nagista - a quarter horse with a little bit of thoroughbred. Five years later, the two have made a formidable pair.
"I compete in the National Barrel Horse Association," Johnson said. "The first year competing, about two years ago, I took a reserve champion, which is second place out of our district. That was the first year I really started working on it."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at jeremy.millsop@ brainerddispatch.com or 855-5856.
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