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Springs Woman Named 2012 Champion Barrel Racer

Connor Johnson closed out youth competition at the top of her sport.

A young woman from Springs earned a top barrel racing award recently.

Connor Johnson, now 19, was named the 2012 champion in the 3D youth division, which is for competitors 18 and under, of the The National Barrel Horse Association, the largest barrel racing organization in the world.

At a dinner on March 29, she received her prizes; a saddle for being the 2012 NY03 district champion; a halter for placing fourth in the 2D youth division; and a belt buckle for reserve champion in the 3D open division for those 19 years old and older. Her awards were a result of cumulative points for the year.

"I've won stuff before, but I've never gotten a buckle, I've never gotten a saddle, and I don't think I've gotten a buckle, so it's probably the highest I ever place," said Johnson, a student at Suffolk County Community College who hopes to get into the nursing program.

Along with her younger sister, Johnson keeps her horses at a private horse farm, Oakdale Farms in East Hampton. Lianne Miller, who owns the farm with her husband Tommy Miller and is an accomplished barrel racer herself, has become like Johnson's mentor. "She taught me how to ride," Johnson said of Miller. "If I have a question, I can go to her."

She and her mount finished on top as last year was her last riding Shawna Bugs Tex, fondly known as Buggy. She's been riding him since she was 9 years old, leasing him from Miller. This year, she moved on to another horse as she began competing in the adult division. "You have to have a connection," she said of her pairing with Buggy.

Johnson, the daughter of Barry and Beth Johnson, has been riding and competing since she was 8 years old. Her mother grew up riding and passed on her love of horses to her daughters.

Asked why she loves barrel racing, Johnson said: "It's a rush. It's an adrenaline rush. I like to run. I love to go fast." She also said it is a stress reliever.

Since barrel racing is not as popular on the East End as it is many other areas of the country, most of the barrel racing competitions take place at the Bohemia Equestrian Center. Oakwood Farms in Medford hosts the NBHA shows once a month starting in April and ending in October.

NBHA members compete at district, state, national and world championship levels. Johnson competes in the state finals in Fonda, NY, and the Colonial Nationals in Lexington, VA, every year. "Last year, she also qualified to go to the world show in Augusta, GA, and didn't win anything, but had an awesome time," her mother said.

Congratulate Connor on a job well done and wish her luck in her upcoming season. Leave a comment below.
Audrey Stonemetz April 16, 2013 at 09:31 PM
So proud of you Conner ! Congrats! Love to see your pictures! Watching for more!
Dana April 16, 2013 at 10:27 PM
What a great accomplishment! Great to hear from the Western equestrians!
sue fiore April 16, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Yayy Connor!
Audrey Stonemetz May 01, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Conner is the best congats one ore time ! Keep on enjoying! :) !
Audrey Stonemetz May 01, 2013 at 04:13 PM
so sorry one more time!

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