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World championship horses face Oklahoma heat

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Competitors use large box fans to cool their horses. Competitors use large box fans to cool their horses.
AQHYA contestant Alicia Porter is from Canada and said the Oklahoma heat has taken some getting used to. AQHYA contestant Alicia Porter is from Canada and said the Oklahoma heat has taken some getting used to.
By Audrey Esther, INsite Team

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The extreme heat can be just as harmful to animals as it can to humans.

Young people from all over the world are out at state Fair Park trying to keep themselves and their world championship horses cool.

The competition is currently going on at the fairgrounds. It the first time the American Quarter Horse Youth World Championship has been in OKC. This week contestants are not only trying to beat the competition they're trying to beat the heat.

"They're not your average kind of house that's out in the pasture, really," AQHYA contestant Alicia Porter said. "They're very expensive and they have to be taken care of."

Taking care of world championship quarter horses takes a lot of work, 19-year-old Alicia Porter knows. She's one of more than 1,000 contestants at this year's contest.

"This contest is the pinnacle of youth showing they come here to earn world championship honors," AQHYA Media Relations Director Jennifer Hancock said.

This year contestants are not only battling for the championship, they're battling record breaking heat. It's quite an adjustment for international competitors like Porter who are used to cooler Canadian temperatures.

"Especially coming from Alberta it's just such a different kind of heat for us and our horses so they really have to try and adapt," Porter said.

Porter keeps her horses safe much the same way she keeps herself safe.

"Keep water in front of them at all times, keep their pails full, give them electrolytes, keep fans on them," Porter said.

Fans, lots of fans, are the key in keeping everyone comfortable. Huge circulating fans plus 300 new stalls are all part of the State Fair park's recent renovation.

"We've tried to keep circulation and ventilation as a priority when we designed the facility," Oklahoma State Fair General Manager Tim O'Toole said.

The newly air conditioned area might feel good, but could be bad for performances.

"With most horses you can't really know how you're going to do because your horse is completely different once they step in that arena with that cool air," Porter said.

The championship runs through Saturday.

Watch coverage of the championship.

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