Arlington resident wins mini-horse national championship

ARLINGTON — Betsy Hamley knew she was excited when her horse won top honors during a recent national competition in Tulsa, Okla.

But she didn't know how loud she was.

"The competition was streamed online this year, so I got calls from people who said I was yelling when we won," Hamley said.

Hamley's miniature horse, Wild Haven's A Chance to Dream, won first place in the 2-year-old gelding classification during the American Miniature Horse Registry National Show.

Named Chance for short, the mini horse also took home the reserve grand champion award in the junior gelding division in only its second year of national competition.

The show, during which horse owners and trainers from around the United States compete in dozens of show and performance categories, took place Sept. 10-19.

Hamley said about 1,700 horses of all sizes took part in this year's competition. She said this year marked the fourth year she has entered miniature horses in the event.

In order to advance to nationals, horses must place in the top three in their classification during regional competition.

Up to 70 horses competed in each class during the national show, Hamley said.

The Arlington resident, along with her family and professional trainer, Syndi Kanzler of Redmond, took 27 horses total to the national event.

"The Northwest is really strong in the mini horse world," Hamley said. "About 60 percent of the titles this year came from the Northwest."

Hamley and her husband, Lance, have 37 acres that they have converted from an old dairy farm to a miniature horse ranch called Wild Haven Farm.

More than 40 horses, some of which Hamley is boarding for clients, reside on the family's property.

When she's not showing horses, she also serves as a horse "midwife," to help her clients' horses give birth. She also works at Petco in Marysville as a groomer.

But miniature horses are Hamley's passion, she said.

"You don't have to have a lot of acreage," Hamley said. "It's a really affordable horse."

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