First cousins Riley Farris, 12, and Faith Farris, 15, both earned top horse cutting awards for their performances at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Championships in Oklahoma City last week.
Riley Farris was named the Level 3 World Champion in Cutting on Wednesday while Faith Farris was named Reserve World Champion in the same category. Riley also won the Level 2 Reserve World Championship and the 13 and Under Division World Championship.
Faith Farris was the AQHYA World Champion in 2017 and 2018, setting the stage for her cousin Riley to accomplish the same title this year. But the back-to-back defending champion came very close to taking her third straight.
“We are both super competitive with each other but also crazy happy when the other wins,” said Faith Farris. “They called out every winner from 17th place to first place. When it came down to just the two of us remaining, we were holding hands and hugging. They named me Reserve Champion, which of course meant that she won, and when she trotted up to get her trophy, I just started crying. I was so happy for her.”
The win for Riley meant that she prevented her cousin from recording a three-peat in the event. But Faith stated that if someone had to dethrone her, she was glad it was Riley.
“It was cool to get to be like her,” said Riley. “We can be very competitive, but we care about each other, too. When she won the last two years, it was motivation for me to do the same.”
Both cousins admitted that their relationship feels more like a sisterhood than anything. The two live and train together on the same ranch and try to support one another with positive energy despite their natural competitiveness.
In terms of preparation, Riley admitted that she can sometimes feel nerves before a performance. However, adrenaline takes over when she is out there and it is easy to forget about the crowd, no matter the size.
Despite her successes, Faith admitted that the nerves never dissipate before a performance, regardless of the specific event’s magnitude. She is always fighting anxiety before she takes center stage.
Riley would like to continue the family’s ownership of the title and defend her championship at the event next year.
A number of other locals also represented Madison County at the event in Oklahoma City. These competitors included Courtney Hammit, Layla Clark and Harper Nash. The three competitors were coached by Nancy Cahill.