By Wrangler Network contributor Miss Rodeo America
Hello from the edge of the Bakken oil field and the heart of our great state- Mandan, North Dakota. I’m Dani Taylor, Miss Rodeo North Dakota 2015.
Think back to Father’s Day 2011. Do you remember what you were doing? I was backing into the box for the short-go in breakaway roping in Bowman, North Dakota for the North Dakota State High School Finals Rodeo my senior year. I can remember the exact times I got in the breakaway roping and the goat tying, but none the less, ended up fifth in both events as a senior, missing the national high school finals by one placing. While it hurt to not make the national finals that year, high school rodeo was the place I won some, learned a lot, but most of all- made friends and more importantly, built my rodeo family. If you were to ask any of them if they thought Dani Taylor would be Miss Rodeo North Dakota someday though, they would have laughed at the idea.
It wouldn’t be the talking part, rodeo knowledge or riding ability to have thrown them, but the idea of me in makeup, curled hair and a dress was something no one in my rodeo family had ever experienced. Also in their defense, I didn’t exactly grow up doing activities that would have foreshadowed the idea of me being a rodeo queen. I played ice hockey for 12 years as a defense man and eventually moved into the net as a goalie. I showed market lambs, club calves, dairy cattle, dairy goats, chickens and of course horses. I grew up in my parents implement dealership where I could frequently be found building things with old part boxes, working in the office or in the back helping one of the technicians work on a tractor. But most often I could be found with a dirt covered face having tied goats for hours because I wasn’t just practicing, but also breaking in goats as we contracted them for rodeos in North Dakota.
I ran in my first queen pageant my freshman year of college. I won Horsemanship, Speech and First Runner up, but entirely tanked the category of Appearance. It was then I signed up for the North Dakota Pageant Seminar, where Kim Kuhn (Miss Rodeo Wyoming 2012) taught me so much about the appearance side of things- how to curl my hair, put on foundation and hardest of all: glue on eyelashes. I went on to win Miss Rodeo Mandan while capturing horsemanship, personality and the kicker- appearance.
As Miss Rodeo Mandan I went on to compete with five wonderful young ladies during the Badlands Circuit Finals, where I had the time of my life, met new people and became the 60th Miss Rodeo North Dakota. It’s my pageant experience that I credit for getting my current job with Clearwater Communications and my experience as Miss Rodeo North Dakota that has helped me be successful there, because that’s what being a rodeo queen is- a job, and the best job at that.
This year as MRND has been one of the biggest blessings a young lady could receive. There was Denver, where we had tea with a steer in the Brown Palace Hotel. The circuit finals in Kissimmee, Florida where I got to go behind the scenes of Gator Land, hold a python, pet an alligator and witness Miss Rodeo Minnesota almost kill the tarantula spider they handed us. There was Guymon, Oklahoma where I’ve never been treated so well by a rodeo committee (more than worthy of their induction to the hall of fame this year) had a blast, as well as set off the host homes alarm system at 6 a.m. when I needed something out of my car and improperly unlocked the house when exiting. There was the Lincoln, Nebraska rodeo, where we took a trip to the Omaha Zoo and I got to feed sharks, gators and best of all play with the penguins. I loved carrying the American flag at my hometown Mandan Rodeo Days, where my family and friends got to see me in action. But most recently there was my hiccup of being bucked off at ‘The Daddy of ‘em All’ in Cheyenne. My horse had tried it in warm up and I thought I had worked out the kinks but he spooked partway through our fly by and blew up from there. None the less I took a bow as the crowd cheered for my impromptu entrance of the saddle bronc, jumped on and re-did my fly-by.
As Miss Rodeo North Dakota I have had the chance to teach people from not only my state but people around the world about rodeo, agriculture and my great state. I have so many wonderful people to thank for their support, encouragement and help along the way. After Cheyenne I thought about the John Wayne quote: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway” but replaced scared with embarrassed. Life is good at throwing curve balls like the horse I had in Cheyenne, but you have to be able to make the best of a silly situation.
Thanks for stopping by the Miss Rodeo America blog, I hope to catch you on the rodeo trail, God Bless!