By Wrangler Network contributor Miss Rodeo America
My journey towards becoming Miss Rodeo Montana didn’t start 23 years ago when I was born into the ranching, farming, and rodeo lifestyle. Rather, it was the six generations dedicated to feeding America, four generations obsessed with the high of the rodeo arena, and 60 years of passion for breeding quality Quarter Horses that laid the foundation for my role as Miss Rodeo Montana.
As a child in Simms, Montana, I took full advantage of my access to horses and numerous agriculture programs. Eleven years of participation in 4-H instilled in me the importance of work ethic, while bringing my competitive nature to life. At the time, I didn’t realize these values were tools I would use throughout my whole life! Whether it was rodeoing, showing cattle, sheep, or horses, I pursued excellence. When you enter the arena with your family’s livestock, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that makes the sweat and tears from early mornings and late nights worth it.
That same pride is present today as I wear the crown of Miss Rodeo Montana, while riding a horse with our brand, and my training. Even though I’ve competed in equine events from barrel racing to pleasure classes, I’ve always most enjoyed my time spent training young horses. My family believes in the importance of a well-trained horse regardless of its discipline. Our ranch and neighboring ranches hosted clinicians such as Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance. The educators I was exposed to pushed the importance of bettering yourself, and every horse you owned, by challenging me to learn the art of training from an early age. The lessons learned from these incredible people added so many tools to my toolbox of life! Because of their influence and mentorship, I began giving back to the same programs that shaped me into the woman I am today. I have served as a 4-H Leader for five years and spent the last year raising money and planning for the State 4-H Horse Show to pay-forward what so many adults made possible for me.
Many rodeo queens remember wanting to be rodeo royalty from an early age. That was not my story. In fact, I was more intrigued by the confirmation, pedigrees, and training of the timed event equine athletes than the glitz of the rodeo queens. However, I believe God works in mysterious ways and I feel called to serve rodeo and my heritage in the capacity of Miss Rodeo Montana. As a freshman in college, I decided that I would dedicate myself to pursuing educational tools that I would use to be a successful Miss Rodeo Montana. Upon graduating from Carroll College, I had secured bachelors degrees in political science and business administration with a concentration in marketing. Even with this mouthful of degrees, I will continue to add to my life’s toolbox by pursuing my law degree when representing Professional Rodeo as a rodeo queen is complete.
My year as Miss Rodeo Montana has validated what I’ve always believed, that my most important tool, my most useful tool, and the tool that benefits me the most, was developed prior to my interests in becoming a rodeo queen. Eleven years ago, my father lost his battle with depression and I learned what grit was truly about. No matter how young you are, I believe losing a parent changes your perspective. As a rodeo queen, a woman could become overwhelmed by the stress of the job and the daily challenges. However, losing my dad caused me to look at most mountainous challenges as simple hills. If you can survive losing a parent, a rank flag horse, long-late night drives, countless emails, early morning appearances, uncertain schedules, and the stress of piles of paperwork seem easily manageable. I didn’t learn my grit, I earned it the hard way, but I am blessed each morning I place the crown of Miss Rodeo Montana upon my hat, banner across my chest, and buckle on my belt.
I wouldn’t trade the long hours or late nights for anything, it is an honor to be a member of an elite group of women who have held the title of Miss Rodeo Montana.