Thirteen-year-old Britney Mroczkowski knows that becoming a world champion will take a lot of work.
But that's her goal before she turns 18 and is too old to compete in the youth division of the American Quarter Horse Association competitions.
Next month Britney and her 6-year-old chestnut mare, Easily Confided, will travel to Fort Worth, Texas. There they will compete in the 31st Annual American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show and Convention.
To get to to the big time, Britney had to earn a predetermined number of points at American Quarter Horse Association-approved shows in a year. She made it in less.
Britney learned how to ride when she was 6 and began jumping a year later.
Her aunt loaned her the first horse, Just Jolie. Then her family bought her Ruby, a jumper that cleared heights of 2 feet.
"Britney wanted to jump bigger, so we upgraded (to Easily Confided)," said Britney's mom, Cindy Mroczkowski. Easily Confided can jump 4 feet, she said.
The show in Texas is an invitational event that serves as a showcase for top American Quarter Horse youth exhibitors. More than 2,000 youths from all over the United States, Canada and several foreign countries will compete.
The young riders will compete for 30 world championship titles as well as prizes.
"I love spending time with my horse, going to the shows and seeing my friends from all over the state who compete on the circuit," said Britney, who will be in the eighth grade at Pine View Middle School this term. There she is a member of the National Honor Society and is on the high honor roll.
One of the highlights of her equestrian hobby was traveling to Lexington, Va., where she competed in the East Coast Championship Show in April. She won two first place awards and one second place.
"They had a cross country Olympic-style setup," she said. "I rode every day."
But it isn't all riding and glory for the young equestrian.
It's grooming, cleaning hooves and mucking out stables when she is on the road and providing lots of loving care for her mare.
"I like the work ethic involved," Mrs. Mroczkowski said.
Recently the mare, nicknamed Dallas, had a bruised leg, and Britney had to walk her twice a day.
"It took a while to heal," Britney said.
Two trainers work with Britney and her horse. In Tampa, the mare is stabled and trained at Showcase Farms on Dale Mabry Highway. Patty Shortino trains the horses that are stabled there. On the east coast of the state, Cindy Reddish of Palm City trains the horse.
When Britney isn't riding or studying, she likes to ski on the lake behind the home she shares with her mother and father, Mark Mroczkowski. She also takes art lessons.
But riding is her favorite pastime, and she wants to attend a college with a good equestrian team.
"I'll think about the Olympics someday," she said. "Mom says most Olympians are in their 30s, so I have plenty of time."
_ Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (800) 333-7505 ext. 4612 or (813) 909-4612. Her e-mail address is jonessptimes.com