Joyce Roberts of Kennewick and Beverley Bingaman of Hermiston already have their own favorite trail horses, and they hope America agrees with them.
Roberts' 8-year-old quarterhorse Bonita and Bingaman's 16-year-old Arabian mix Zahira Amirah (Zah Zah for short) are entered in the American Competitive Trail Horse Association's America's Favorite Trail Horse competition.
The online contest is based on votes for horses, shown in five-minute video clips that highlight each horse's skills and composure while trotting a figure 8, side passing, crossing water and other obstacles.
Both riders have overcome other challenges with their horses. Roberts bought her horse wild from an auction and broke her herself. "I was born a horse addict in a family that didn't own horses," she said.
Bingaman rescued Zah Zah after she had been neglected for half of her life.
"She has taken me from Washington to Southern California. We've ridden the mountains, through the desert and on the ocean beaches. She is a great little mare and is all heart, always willing to give her all to please me," Bingaman said in an email.
After they filmed each other's videos, the best friends who have traveled miles side by side now are facing off in the second round of the semi-finals.
Both say they will vote for the other.
"After all she is my best friend," said Bingaman in an email.
And while they're disappointed to be in competition this early, they hope that horse lovers in the Northwest will support their own.
"Texas usually wins the voting," said Roberts.
Voting for this round ends at 5 p.m. Thursday. Only one vote per email address is allowed.
* Visit actha.tv to watch the videos and cast your vote.