Blonde and precocious, Camille McDonald is beginning to steal the show at the 53rd Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.
Camille, just 5 years old and in kindergarten at Desert Sun Elementary in north Scottsdale, finished in the top 10 in the 17-and-under Halter Class at Westworld on Friday with her 26-year-old horse, War Games.
Although her accomplishment was a few days old at the event, known as “the Mecca for the Arabian Horse,” Camille’s smile still was as wide as if she just won, besting many teenagers in just her second year of competition in an event that essentially requires the horse to look at its leader and listen to commands.
Camille is following in the footsteps of her father, Gary McDonald, of McDonald Arabians of Scottsdale, and her three older siblings, Madyson, 12, Kenny, 10, and Alleyna, 7.
Camille’s secret of her early success?
“I talk to my horse,” Camille said. “I tell him I love him, and that he’s my best friend. It’s fun. The funnest part is getting to show them.
“You have to make sure your horse looks at you, when you get them to move,” she said, making a clacking sound with her mouth.
Gary McDonald, whose family has been involved with Arabian horses for nearly 50 years, said Monday that Camille is naturally interested in horses on her own.
“She’d spend all day with horses, if she could,” McDonald said.
The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, which is the largest Arabian horse show in the world, is featuring about 2,600 Arabian horses and representing 40 countries for 600 competitions this year, according to Janice McCrea Wight, spokeswoman for the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona.
The show, which continues every day throughout the week and concludes Sunday, is expected to bring in 250,000 spectators, she said. Last year, the show netted $52 million, according to McCrea Wight.
Friday is Family Day, and admission is free for everyone.
“It’s a lot to do in one day,” she said. “Some people come for three or four days just to watch the show.”