After claiming two state titles and Cal-Western Appaloosa Rookie of the Year honors in 2005, Neely, 19, traveled to the 2006 World Championship Appaloosa Youth Show in Oklahoma City in July with her horse, Justa Material Girl - aka Snoopy. The two competed in five divisions in five days, earning two titles in the Showmanship at Halter division and gaining valuable experience in the Pleasure and Equitation divisions.
Despite coming down with strep throat on the first day of the event, Neely wasn't about to call it quits.
"She didn't want to go back to the hotel at all," said Neely's mother, Margaret. "She slept outside the barn for a good part of the day and then that night she rode."
Before the week was over Neely, who was 18 at the time, had earned a pair of first-place finishes in Showmanship at Halter in the 16-18-year-old division and the novice youth 18U division.
Photo courtesy of Gotch'ya Photography
Andrea Neely of Brentwood made quite a splash at the U.S. Water Ski Nationals in Bakersfield this summer, winning her first national title in the Women's I Division.
The Showmanship at Halter competition is designed to judge the exhibitor's ability to present the horse. For Neely, the experience was more than she had hoped for.
"I went to worlds so I could come out with a really good pattern and to learn a bunch of stuff," she said. "I ended up doing the best pattern I have ever done in my whole entire life. I really didn't expect that at all."
Neely came away with two championship trophies and a jacket for her efforts at the world championships. She also placed in the top five in the Novice Western Pleasure division and was in the top 10 in the Novice Western Equitation division. She placed 11th in Hunt Seat Equitation.
Three weeks later, Neely was off to Bakersfield for the U.S. Water Ski Nationals. With such a busy summer schedule, she was only able to enter three tournaments during the season. The result was a lower seeding at nationals in the Women's I Division.
"Normally I'm the last skier but since I hadn't competed in very many tournaments this year, my scores were low and I had to ski early," Neely said. "I went out and put up a score that freaked everyone else out. Then I just waited to see if the other girls could do any better."
As the only competitor to pass two and a half buoys at 35 feet off (the 75-foot rope), Neely clinched her first water ski title. Through the experience she learned what she was capable of.
"I didn't even expect to place this summer in horseback riding or water skiing, let alone win both," Neely said. "I'm really happy with what I did. It's really cool to say you're a world champion. I can't believe I actually did that."
Neely recently finished her first season on the Sac State water ski team. She placed 11th at nationals in the slalom division, 20th in trick and 35th in jump. As a team, the Hornets placed fifth nationally.