By Sue Moore
Samantha (Sammi) Fritz from Fulton is one of two American youths who will compete in the World Cup Barrel Race in Brazil next month.
She and John Ball, of Lexington, Ky., were chosen by the National Barrel Horse Association to represent the U.S. Bob Hess, a coordinator from the association from Indiana also recommended her.
Two youths from every country competing have been selected to participate in the World Cup Barrel Race to be held in Londrina, Brazil, July 16 – 20.
“She rides well,” said one of the selectors in describing Sammi (15), who will be a sophomore at Vicksburg High School. She is the daughter of Ben and Shawn Fritz who farm in Fulton. Sammi’s two older sisters, Becky Barton and Betsy Barrett, raise quarter horses for barrel events at their horse farm, Raise The Bar Performance Horses. They started their own show grounds last year for barrel shows with riders coming to compete from all over the Midwest.
Sammi has been riding since she was four years old. She broke her wrist at age six from a fall off her pony. It took her three years to get back on a horse and found she was a natural at barrel racing. “It’s a rush when you have a great run. The adrenalin kicks in, even though your run usually is around 16 seconds. You hope to do it in 15 or less depending on the pattern.” Fritz said. She rides and trains on her own horse, Crackers, at their barn with the help of her sisters.
For the competition in Brazil, the youth riders will draw a new horse every day that they have never ridden. The competitors each have five minutes in the holding pen to get acquainted with the horse and to adjust equipment to their liking, then go into the arena to race against the clock, hoping to leave all the barrels standing. She will run a total of four times, on a different horse each day. She will be scored on the average of her four runs. Sammi’s older sister and a friend, Kris Barga, will be accompanying her on this trip.
They will have a 14-hour flight to Brazil, then a six-hour bus trip to Londrina where the competition will be held for youth 18 years and under. Her other sister, Betsy, will be staying back to manage the horse farm.
Sammi also plays with the Kalamazoo Kings 14U softball team where she plays utility. She just finished playing her first year of high school softball for the Vicksburg JV team.