Local high school student wins world championship horse show

Published 12:36 am Sunday, July 26, 2015

When Luke Paulus’ parents bought him his first horse, they had no idea that Luke would take home top awards in the ARHA (American Ranch Horse Association) World Championship Horse Show.

“I wanted a horse like a pet,” said Denise Paulus, Luke’s mother.

Luke had different ideas about the horse and soon began showing the animal. While other children his age were participating in school sports, 10-year-old Luke gave up playing sports and devoted his time to showing horses.

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“He chose to compete,” said Paulus. “He’s got a very competitive spirit.”

Paulus said that Luke began winning competitions not long after he began showing horses.

“He wins these every year,” said Paulus. “It’s very exciting.”

For Luke, showing horses was a natural decision.

“I fell in love with it,” he said. “It’s just always been my passion to ride horses.”

Because there are few ranch horse competitions in the area, Luke often has to travel out of town to compete. But that hasn’t stopped Luke from pursuing what he loves.

“If you have a passion for riding horses, you can always find a way to do it,” said Luke.

Luke has shown quarter horses at the ARHA Championship for the past seven years and spends time training his horse every day in Hurricane, West Virginia, with his instructor Woody Taylor. Preparing a horse for a championship is like preparing for a marathon, said Luke.

“We just make sure we condition,” he said.

At the ARHA Championship, youth from around the country come to show their horses.

“The best kids in the nation go there to compete,” said Luke.

The championship is broken down into divisions that test the skill of the ranch horse showman. The competition can take all day and evaluates horses based upon how well prepared they are for life on a ranch, said Luke. This year, Luke had to show his horse 11 times over the course of the event.

“I won youth herd work 18 and under, youth ranch sorting, working cow horse 18 and under, (and) youth working ranch horse,” said Luke.

Winning top awards in multiple divisions is an achievement that Luke said makes his efforts preparing his horses for the show worth it.

“It’s a great feeling because all my hard work pays off,” he said.

Now a junior at Dawson-Bryant High School, Luke plans to continue showing horses until he graduates from high school and may show horses throughout college.