Harper and Patches

Harper and her quarterhorse named Patches show off her championship buckle.

She’s only seven years old, but she’s already earned the title of World Champion.

Young Harper Bahl, a second-grader at Bellevue Elementary School, just two weeks ago took the World Champion title for Pee Wee Barrel Racing at the International Miniature Rodeo Association (IRMA) finals at the Gordyville USA Arena in Gifford, Illinois.

Bahl and her quarter horse ‘Patches,’ competed in four rounds to achieve the title, placing first in three of the four rounds and placing second in one of the four rounds. She took home a total of four championship buckles for her stellar efforts. She competed in the Pee Wee category, which is for girls ages 6 to 8 years old.

Her parents, Jon and Kayla Bahl, who live on a farm between Bellevue and Andrew, are proud of their daughter’s amazing achievement, and have spent about 33 weekends out of the past year, driving to competitions around the country.

“She’s been on the back of a horse since she was one year old and started to ride by herself at the age of 3 at local horse shows,” said Kayla Buhl. “What’s also incredible about this is Harper's 12 year old cousin Kaylee Dierksen also took home the World Champion Junior Barrel Racer Title. These girls are realty amazing.”

To qualify for the International Miniature Rodeo Association Harper had to compete at youth rodeos throughout Iowa. She competed at Iowa Rodeo and Rough Stock, Central Iowa Youth Rodeo, Honey Creek Series and Tuff 'N' Nuff Miniature Rodeo. Harper has been on the back of a horse since she was 1 and started to ride by herself at the age of 3 at local horse shoes.

When asked how she got so good, you Harper said, “I learned from messing up a lot at first.”

Harper brought her championship buckles to show her classmates in Mrs. Decker’s class last week. She said she is looking forward to next year’s rodeo season, and hopes to repeat her success.

“I’m excited and hope I can do it again next year,” said young Harper, who said that she would like to pursue a career as a trick rider at rodeos when she grows up and travel across the country.

Looks like she’s well on her way to that goal.