8th-Grader Finishes As Reserve Champion

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The 13-year-old champion of the Payson Buckle summer series of barrel racing and pole bending has taken her gold medal act to the Gilbert Rodeo Park.

Amber Marshall, an eighth-grade student at Rim Country Middle School, finished as the Reserve Champion in a year-long series of gymkhanas sponsored by the Chandler Vaqueros Saddle Club.

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Rim Country Middle School eighth-grader Amber Marshall displays the two buckles she was awarded for her victories in the Chandler Vaqueros Saddle Club gymkhana series.

Since last January, Marshall has been traveling each month to the Gilbert Park to showcase the equestrian skills she fine-tuned in the Buckle Series that was sponsored last summer by the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

As part of each gymkhana, she was required to participate in both pole bending and barrel racing.

"Poles was probably my best event when I started," Marshall said, "but barrel racing is my favorite."

In addition to those two events, most monthly gymkhanas required entrants to participate in two other competitions.

"Every gymkhana had different things we had to do," she said.

During the entire series, Marshall competed on her 9-year-old gelding, A.J.

Sitting high atop a horse is nothing new for the teenager. She's been riding horses since she was 1-year-old and first began competing in gymkhanas at 10.

With a long history of success fueling her, Marshall says her eventual goal is to someday become a PWRCA champion.

Marshall is supported on the gymkhana circuit by Hashknife Feed & Tack and Unlimited Outfitters.

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