Showing American Quarter Horses Abroad

One member shares her story of how American Quarter Horses won her heart -- in Norway.

Linnea Ohlen, a member of AQHA since 2001, lives in Norway, where she works for a company that manufactures stair lifts. Her story about her horse, Fox Eyed Spirit, demonstrates the growing popularity of American Quarter Horses abroad, and how these great horses have the ability to touch hearts all over the globe.

"Years ago, when I first got interested in riding western, a friend gave me a call. She asked if I would ride her stallion, Fox Eyed King, in a clinic, because she had been injured and was unable to ride, and the entrance fee was already paid. I was very nervous and exited about that -- I had never ridden a western horse before!

"This big, gentle stallion was just the best. Every time I got tangled up in the long reins or misplaced my arms or legs, he would just stop and wait for me to arrange myself again. And the first time I tried a stop from a lope, I wasn't expecting a stop like that -- I was used to Icelandic ponies -- and flew over the saddle and was flung onto his neck. Gentleman that he was, he just raised his head and placed me back in the saddle. That was when I decided I wanted an offspring from this beautiful stallion.

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"And that is how it all started. I bought 'Spirit' as a baby. The first time I saw him, he was only 1 day old. I fell madly in love with this little colt. He has grown very slowly, therefore I didn't rush the breaking. We just take our time and have fun together. He is a kind and sweet horse. Every time I come to the stable, he neighs loudly and comes running toward me. He really is something special. There is so much life in him, he enjoys playing and fooling around. Boys will be boys.

"He is out of a working cow horse mare, Shesasmokinpeponita, but we actually won junior western pleasure and junior trail two years ago! I guess that was my lucky day! This is my first year to compete with him in senior classes, and I am really exited.

"This year, we also attended one of the International Horsemanship Camps in Hamal, Norway. Four hot days, learning so much -- that was fantastic!" To check out what's going on at these camps, check out Alicia Daugherty's blog, On the International Trail.

"There usually is a big audience during western shows. People thinks it's fun with all the beautiful clothes and horses, the good atmosphere and friendliness among the riders. The cheering and clapping for reining riders is very fun for those who usually watch dressage. Also, many people are attracted to the western cowboy culture, and they bring out their hats and boots and spend the days at the shows, even when they are not necessarily interested in the riding.

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"At the Norwegian Quarter Horse Association show this year, there were 65 horses. The Quarter Horse is popular in Norway. Many people have an interest in this breed and are fascinated by their good mind and soft gaits. But they are still pretty expensive, and therefore many people can't afford them.

"A friend of mine visited from Sweden a couple weeks ago, and I let her ride Spirit. She had never ridden a western horse before, and she was totally fascinated by him.Maybe it's in these horses' genes to take care of rookies."

American Quarter Horses make friends and fans wherever they go, domestically or abroad. The European Championship of American Quarter Horses is in full swing -- it runs until August 23. Get more information about it here.