Madison Thiel took home top honors after her third time competing at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show.

Madison Thiel took home top honors after her third time competing at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show.

The Dublin 17-year-old was named champion of Showmanship at Halter at the Aug. 5 competition in Oklahoma City.

Although Madison spends hours riding, her world championship title comes in a category that involves leading the horse on foot.

For Showmanship at Halter, Madison had to complete a pattern with her horse that included pivots, walking and trotting.

"For showmanship, your horse has to follow you and you have to be connected," she said.

For Madison's sister and fellow rider, Charley, showmanship is the most difficult category -- even though she's won world championships in Hunter under Saddle, an English riding category.

"Showmanship at Halter to me is the hardest class," Charley said. "All (Madison) had to do is go out there and be herself."

To win the world championship, Madison beat out 185 other riders from around the globe.

"About 90 percent of the people were from the U.S., but the rest were from all over. There were people from Israel and Luxembourg," Charley said.

To make it to the world championship, Madison had to qualify at a regional contest and did so at just one event.

"You get to world championships through qualification," she said. "You have to get 24 points in showmanship, and you get one point for beating five people. It's a lot of work to go to all the shows."

And Madison and Charley go to a lot of shows: Madison said they attend one about every three weeks throughout the year.

Practicing also takes up a lot of time. When not at a show or visiting her trainer in Michigan twice a month, Madison is riding.

"We practice all the time, as much as you can," she said. "If we're not at a show, we're practicing."

Madison practices locally at JD Show Horses in Delaware and in Michigan rides the horse she's leasing from northwest Ohio owners Sharon and Ronald Gigax.

"We just really clicked," Madison said of HF Lazy Lopin Diva, a descendant of famed Thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat.

The relationship with her horse is what's kept Madison riding for 10 years despite the time commitment.

"I just absolutely love the friendship I make with the horse and I love the responsibility," she said. "I love the people I meet and I love horses."

"The relationship you get with the horse is unmatchable," Charley agreed, adding that the hard work pays off with success. "There's not a better feeling than having a neck wreath placed around your horse."

With several shows to attend, including the upcoming All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus in October, Madison will start her senior year being home schooled, but plans to attend Coffman High School in the spring.

After graduation, Madison hopes to continue riding like Charley, who rides for the University of Georgia.

"I want to ride for a team in college," Madison said. "I want to get a scholarship to ride."