TOP PERFORMANCE: Gympie's Alia Khan competes at the National Barrel Horse Association world championships in Perry, Georgia.
TOP PERFORMANCE: Gympie's Alia Khan competes at the National Barrel Horse Association world championships in Perry, Georgia. Phifer at Rodeobum

Barrel racer's wild ride at world championships

BARREL RACING: Competing in an overseas world championship would be daunting under normal circumstances, but what about doing so on a horse you've know less than a week?

This was the challenge Alia Khan was faced with, and not one the Gympie barrel rider would let stop her.

Riding in the finals of the National Barrel Horse Association in Perry, Georgia, in a field of 822 competitors from a dozen countries, Khan, 26, took home a buckle and a wildcard slot in a future world championship event of her choosing.

Already the biggest event she had ever competed at, the challenge was heightened as Khan had only spent a total of six days with her horse in the lead-up.

"I was so scared,” she said.

"It's a pretty intimidating thing to have a couple of days on a horse that you've never ridden before, and then trust it to run as hard as it can out in front of a lot of people.”

While she spent part of the week getting to know the horse through trail riding and grooming, there was also an element of stepping into the unknown.

"We went to a couple of different arenas and had to trust it and run it and see what it did,” she said.

Although she knocked a drum over in her finals run Khan, who has been riding competitively for two years, said she was thrilled with the result and was looking forward to the next challenge she could tackle with the wildcard slot.

"I can go back any time I like,” she said.

And when would that be?

"I would love to go back next year but money permitting, I guess, it's not a very cheap thing to do.”

She was also grateful for the support from her friends and family, who were able to watch the event as it was live-streamed.