Eisenzimmer qualifies for AQHA World Championships in barrel racing

Loving horses is one thing that little girls are often known for.

Eisenzimmer horse

Posted on 10/31/15

By Melissa Anderson

For one little girl, the chance to not only love horses but ride competitively in barrel racing is a dream come true.

“It means more than anything to me,” Elli Eisenzimmer said of being invited to the AQHA Worlds.

Eisenzimmer, the 9 year old daughter of Maria and Ryan Eisenzimmer of Langdon, qualified to compete in the Adequan Level 2 Senior Barrel Racing class at the 2015 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Championship Show in Oklahoma City this coming November.

“My goal is to have a clean run, no tips, and place in the top 15,” Eisenzimmer stated.

Eisenzimmer will compete with her American Quarter Horse Ima Slammin Diva, affectionately known as “Sammie”, a 2006 bay mare owned by Eisenzimmer.

“This is my first time qualifying for the AQHA World Show. This is my 2nd year competing at the AQHA level,” Eisenzimmer stated.

The AQHA World is the pinnacle event for American Quarter Horse owners and exhibitors around the world, who must qualify for the event by earning a predetermined number of points to compete in each of the classes representing halter, English and western disciplines.

More than 4,760 entries from the United States, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Germany and Switzerland are competing for 99 world championships and 79 Adequan Level 2 Champion titles at this year’s event. The events will span the majority of November taking place between 5-21 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

“Elli will be running against 24 other barrel racers from all over the world. 24 doesn’t sound like such a big number but Elli and Sammie will be competing against the 24 top AQHA barrel racers in the world,” Ashley Montgomery, Eisenzimmers primary trainer, said.

Eisenzimmer has been riding quarter horses for four years and started barrel racing during the summer of 2014 on a quarter pony named Miss Muffet.

“She excelled immediately on her pony and we felt she was ready for a step up horse in just a matter of a couple months,” Maria Eisenzimmer recalled.

Eisenzimmer handed down her pony to her little sister, Gabi, who is currently running Miss Muffet. That’s when friends of the Eisenzimmers asked if they would be interested in a new barrel horse for Ellie to ride.

“We bought Sammie last summer from friends that were selling her. I liked the look of her and the way she was built,” Eisenzimmer shared.

Some horses have a natural talent to compete and some do not. According to Montgomery, Sammie is a natural and loves her job as a barrel horse.

“You can tell that every time Sammie runs she is putting 110 percent into each turn and stride, meanwhile keeping an eye on her young rider,” Montegomery said

As the young rider and her new horse started their  barrel racing career together it became clear that young Eisenzimmer had found her perfect partner to take on the Worlds.

“Sammie has always taken care of me. She had to get used to a kid riding her and I had to get use to a big horse like her. We make a great team and Sammie always looks out for me,” Eisenzimmer said, “Unlike some barrel horses Sammie is very calm and besides running the barrel pattern, she also enjoys trail riding.”

Eisenzimmer typically participates in the Youth and Open Divisions at local barrel races and AQHA shows.  The youth division is for kids 18 years old or younger and the open division is all ages.

Eisenzimmer has competed at shows all across the region including Valley City, Fargo, Verndale, Minn., Minot, and Rapid City, S.D. Qualifying for the World Show is based on a point system that riders and their mounts must accumulate throughout the AQHA show season which took place from Aug. 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015. The points that Eisenzimmer has received will be added to her record as well as the horse.

“Before every run I say a little prayer to keep myself and my horse safe,” Eisenzimmer said.

While the show does run from Nov. 5-21, the barrel racing is only held on Nov. 10th.

“Elli will only miss a few days of school,” Maria Eisenzimmer said.

Eisenzimmer won’t have to worry about not having a cheering section at the Worlds as she will have quite the support team traveling with her and Sammie to Oklahoma. Her trainers, Ashley and Krista Montgomery, parents, sisters, and both sets of grandparents will be making the trip to Oklahoma as well.

Eisenzimmer is looking forward to meeting some of the top barrel racers in the world while competing in Oklahoma. The big names in the sport that she will be competing against include Michele McLeod, a champion barrel horse trainer and rider; Ryann Pedone, a consistent top money winner; and Brittani Pozzi, a well-known breeder/trainer/rider of top earning barrel racing horses.

“Once you reach this high level of competiton,riding and owning horses is a way of life. You eat, breath, and sleep horses. The amount of time that is dedicated to practicing for showing at this level of competiton is insane, but that’s why we love it,” Montgomery said, “Also, the horses become much more than just a horse, they become family members. Some days it seems like we care for our horses better then we care for ourselves.”

Eisenzimmer is no exception as she prepares not only herself, but her horse, for their first appearance on the world competition stage. Sammie will be at the MonteRay Ranch in Manvel, which is owned by Krista Montgomery, prior to the Lucas Oil AQHA Open World Show for extra conditioning and practice.

“Elli’s parents do a lot of driving to make sure Elli gets to ride “her Sammie” every chance she can before she leaves for Oklahoma City,” Montegomery said.

During this time leading up to the AQHA Worlds, Sammie is ridden on a daily basis by Montgomery to keep the horse in top shape for the upcoming competition.

Montgomery and Eisenzimmer’s parents have high hopes for how far Eisenzimmer can go in the world of competitive barrel racing as the 9 year old is the youngest client of MonteRay Ranch to qualify for the AQHA World show.

“It means so much to us to have Elli competing at her first World Show. It’s her first invite to Worlds so we felt like we should make the most of it,” Maria Eisenzimmer said, “Even if it means driving 1,100 miles. We wouldn’t pass this opportunity up for anything even if she is only 9.”

Eisenzimmer and Sammie will be competing in a much larger arena than what they are use to, so their support system is looking forward to seeing many smiles, maybe even some nervous smiles at first, coming from Eisenzimmer.

“Many memories will be made in just the few days we are there–memories that our family will cherish forever,”Maria Eisenzimmer stated.

It isn’t just having the right horse and rider that leads to a successful team. It also takes the right coaches or, in this instance, trainers.

“If it wasn’t for our trainer, Krista Montgomery, pushing Elli to compete in barrels at the AQHA level, none of this would have been possible,”Maria Eisenzimmer shared.

“We have had tremendous support from our family and horse friends,” Maria continued.

Eisenzimmer would like to thank her trainers–Krista, Ashley, and Melissa Montgomery. Thank you to also to Tessa Holmes. She would like to thank her parents, Maria and Ryan, and grandparents for making this all possible. A special thank you to her sister, Madi, for getting her into this sport of barrel racing and helping her along this journey.  She would also like to thank Toni Shaw, Desiree Wilson, and Emily Andreen for making this horse what she is today.

“This is an experience of a lifetime,” Eisenzimmer said.

For more news from the AQHA World Championship Show, visit