Mason sister’s represent Australia

By Daniel Hughes

Tocumwal sisters Willow and Araminta Mason have just returned from the United States, where they have competed against some of the best barrel riders in the world.

Eight year-old Willow finished 57th out of 260 competitors in her division.

Fifteen year-old Araminta finished just outside the top 100 of the 400 competitors in her division, placing 102nd.

The National Barrel Racing Association world junior barrel racing competition was held in Perry, Georgia at the end of July.

The sisters each trained for a solid two years to be able to compete for the prestigious competition.

The made up half of the Australian team competing, with the other two team members selected from Queensland.

Willow felt she rode really well despite having to lease her horse only a few days before competition.

"He (the horse I competed on) was much bigger than my horse at home and much faster on the turns, but I felt safe as we connected pretty well," she said.

"My horse, Slim, was a very experienced barrel racer," Araminta added.

"We had an excellent trainer, Nicole Monroe and she made the process smooth and as easy as possible," the teen continued.

Both girls strapped on their barrel racing boots three years ago but, according to her family, it is Willow who has thrown herself into the sport with the most love and enthusiasm.

Araminta said while she enjoys barrel racing, her passion lies more with showjumping.

"From the moment Willow saw the barrel racing she had her heart set on it," the girls' mother Sam said.

"Her first competition was in Deniliquin and she won the under 18 buckle.

"Willow is definitely the one who is crazy about barrel racing," Araminta added.

Mrs Mason said she "loved every minute" watching her girls compete and was "extremely proud".

She said it was their unique traits that set them up for such great achievements.

"It has been such a wonderful experience to share with my daughters," she said.

"Both of them bring their own strengths to this event.

"Minty is a perfectionist and her technique is always fantastic.

"Willow is a gun who is not afraid to go fast. 

 "I was so impressed with how they responded to the attention of being Australian and it filled my heart with joy at how proud we all felt to say, ‘we are from Australia’."

Strapping on the green and and gold is an honour for any sportsman, and the Mason sisters say they were proud to represent Australia at the competition.

"It makes me feel proud and it was an honour to represent my family, my hometown and my country," Willow said.

"I felt that people would think Australia was a good country because we were friendly," she continued.

"There is something quite wonderful about representing one’s own country. It made me realise all of the wonderful things we sometimes take for granted about being Australian," Araminta added.

The sisters said they were offered a lot of support while in the United States, and they became quite popular with the other competitors.

"Everyone loved talking to the Australians and asking us to say 'g’day' all the time," Mrs Mason said.

"Willow was interviewed for the Ride TV program and the NBHA Facebook page."

Araminta said it was a great opportunity to make connections with other teenagers with the same interests.

"I have made friends from all over the world and we have been able to connect on Snapchat and Instagram," she said.

There's still a few months left in the NHBA season for the Mason sisters, including another event which may see them quality to compete in the United States again next year.

When the season ends, both girls will turn their attentions to the showjumping circuit.