Zach McCarver’s World Show Experience

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By Ashley Himmelsbaugh

Five countries, 771 competitors, 1056 horses, and almost 3500 entries. This is what Zach McCarver faced when he ventured to the 2018 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show on August 2-11, 2018 at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

Zach McCarver, 17, is homeschooled, a 4-H’er, Eagle Scout, and horse trainer from Jackson, Tennessee. He started riding horses five years ago and obtained his first horse, MS Red Devil, a.k.a. Bingo, a year later. He has trained Bingo in AQHA Ranch Riding himself under the instruction of Barry “Bear” Bolton, an AQHA trainer from Henderson, Tennessee. Zach has also recently begun working with Bob Johnson, an AQHA judge and trainer from Burns, TN. After four years of hard work, dedication, and showing in local shows and in 4-H, Zach felt he and Bingo were ready to test themselves at the next level. They qualified and were invited to complete among the best of the best youth in the world. Zach would be riding with the Tennessee Quarter Horse Association (TQHA) Youth team.

The McCarvers embarked on the ten-hour road trip to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for a week full of showing. Zach and Bingo began the week working diligently with Bob Johnson to ensure that they were prepared for the first class, the L3 Ranch Riding Prelims on Sunday, August 5th, which ran concurrently with the L2 Ranch Riding class.

Zach stated, “For the Prelims, I was 15th to go. I remember being very focused and VERY nervous when I went in. I don’t remember much from that ride, but Bingo and I gave it our all and we had a great run.”

The pair came in 15th place out of 104 entries. This qualified them for the L3 Ranch Riding Finals and placed them 8th in the world for L2 Ranch Riding. With this amazing accomplishment, Zach spent the following days in high spirits as he prepared for the L3 Finals on Tuesday, August 7th.

     “Finals... it was surreal. I was incredibly honored and grateful just being there. Having the opportunity to show in the arena where champions are crowned is something I’ll never forget! Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous at all going into my run. I think that just being there and being able to compete was enough for me, no matter how the placings turned out.” said Zach.

In the final results of the show, Zach and Bingo placed 18th in the world (out of 104 entries), due to a rough lead change in his pattern. Despite not winning the Ranch Riding Championship title – a young cowgirl from Newnan, Georgia, Erin Nicole Mask, and her blue roan Figured Out Vegas cinched that title – the pair accomplished a lot. They had the experience of a lifetime and Zach is hopeful that one day they will take home the championship title.

Zach is grateful to his mom and dad, Kenneth and KaBao McCarver, along with the rest of his family, his friends, all the people who encouraged and helped him along way, the TQHA Youth team, West Tennessee Quarter Horse Association (WTQHA) and the Arkansas Quarter Horse Association (ArQHA), and especially to his teammate through it all, Bingo. 
Zach and MS Red Devil placed third (out of 30 entries) in the $500 added Ranch Riding at the ArQHA Memorial Day Circuit in Tunica, Miss. in June, 2018 and the pair were Level 1 Youth High Point Champions at the Circle G Classic in April, 2018, also in Tunica.

Find more information about the 2018 AQHA Youth World, and results of Ranch Riding, at:

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