RENEE Quinn is only 13, but she's already living out a wonderful dream thanks to her love of horses and a need for speed.
Quiet but intensely determined, the Redbank Plains High schoolgirl has been selected to represent Australia in the United States next year.
Renee and her horse Sirocco have been working towards the 2013 National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) Youth World Championship Finals in Perry, Georgia. Early this month she qualified for the finals, realising a special ambition.
"It's always been a dream of mine to go over to America and represent Australia and barrel racing got people there, so I wanted to do barrel racing so I could do that," Renee said.
She started riding when she was six and rode in pony club events for four years until switching over to barrel racing, defying her fears.
Barrel racing is a high-speed event where horse and rider race against the clock in a clover-leaf pattern around three barrels.
"When I started I didn't know what it was going to be like; I'd seen videos of people falling off and hurting themselves, but it was nothing like that," she said.
"It's scary, but once you get used to it, it's lots of fun. I think that's why I like it."
As with all horse events, she said teamwork was the key to success in barrel racing and she had developed a strong bond with Sirocco, an 11-year-old quarter horse named after one of the horses in McLeod's Daughters.
"Like, sometimes he takes me around the barrels; he knows what to do. Sometimes he forgets - or he thinks he can do it himself and he can't - and I have to take him around," she said.
"When I first got him, he was that naughty horse that just wanted to get you off his back, but then he kind of settled in to us owning him. Now he's fast and wants to do everything.
"He likes to kick his heels up every now and then," Renee said with a smile.
Renee's parents Mark and Debbie are looking for some financial help to pay her way to the United States. Call Mark on 0402 815 990.
They have also set up a bank account at Suncorp Metway. Account details: BSB 484799; account number: 203107671.