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Shanda King and her horse Angry Birds walked, trotted and cantered their way to a world championship last week during the National Snaffle Bit Association World Championship Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Competing in the Amateur 50 & Over Hunter Under Saddle event, an English flat competition in which the horse is judged on its performance, way of going and quality of movement, the James City County resident earned two first-place scores and one second-place score from the judges.
The performance gave her a high-enough average score to take home the world championship against some of the top riders in the world.
A rider for 40 years who finished third in the NSBA World Championship Show last year, King felt something special about this year’s competition.
And despite riding Angry Birds for only the second time in a show, King felt her moment for glory had come.
“It’s hard to explain to a non-horse person, but he just had that perfect feel in the saddle,” King said of Angry Birds.
So confident was King about her upcoming performance, she told her trainer before her run, “I’m going to do it. I’m very close to winning a world championship.”
Throughout her roughly five-minute long performance, King “rode her heart out” while Angry Birds “performed his heart out.”
By the end of her ride, King knew she had just put together what she referred to as a perfect run. And yet, in spite of knowing how well she had just ridden, King was still in shock when it was announced she had won the world championship.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said of her reaction to learning about her newly acquired world championship. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m a world champion!’ I just couldn’t believe it. I thank the good Lord because he was there with me.”
King, who trains at Walnut Acres Farm in Williamsburg, was awarded $467.25 for her first-place finish in the event, though becoming a world champion did come with its share of minor inconveniences.
The hard-earned championship trophy awarded to King was unable to make the trip home with her due to the sheer size of the trophy, which apparently was too large to fit on the plane.
As King waits for her trophy to be shipped to her, she will continue training for next year’s World Championship Show where she hopes to repeat as a world champion.
“I’ve set another goal and I’m going to try for it again next year,” she said. “I still can’t believe I’m a world champion. I’m very grateful for it.”