Winning horsemanship is one of the most coveted titles that a rodeo queen can win.

It takes a lot of preparation to win this category of the competition. Now is the time to start preparing!

Rodeo Queen in HorsemanshipCredit: jmwilding

Every rodeo queen contest will have different requirements and aspects to the category of horsemanship.  It is extremely important to read all of the rules regarding horsemanship when entering the contest.  These tips are basic overall pointers to help you win! 

Ride as many different horses as possible.  Make sure you practice riding horses that are trained for other events, don’t just practice on reining horses.  What will your barrel horse do when asked to execute a pattern?  If you must use your rodeo horse, you need to start schooling him now.

Ride with different horsemanship coaches.  Take lessons, attend clinics, and get all of the  experience on horseback that you can!

Memorize the pattern but don't practice it.  Practice different elements of it, stops, lead changes, roll backs, etc.  without actually doing the pattern.  If you practice the pattern very often your horse will start anticipating and will not perform to the best of his ability.  Practice the pattern without your horse.  Walk or run it in the arena.   Hey, it's good exercise and every rodeo queen needs to be in tiptop shape!  If the contest has several patterns that may be used, memorize them all.

Have someone film you while riding.  You will be able to spot your problem areas.  You might realize that you are leaning forward, grabbing your saddle, or have other bad habits when you see it yourself!

While riding the pattern use the WHOLE arena.  Don't cut off the corners.  Mentally mark off the arena before you ride.  Find something in the arena that will help you mark the center so it will help you keep your focus while executing the pattern.

Lead changes should be flying and in the center, not two strides out!  If your horse will not pick up his leads, make sure that the judges can see you are working on it, and know how to bump him into it.  Try not to let him break down while doing it.

If the pattern says lope, lope!  Or trot, trot!  The judges want to see how you hold your seat during these elements.  If it gives you the option to "walk or trot horse to the center," do both.  Walk in for half of the distance and then trot.  But, remember that you are representing rodeo and a little more speed is better than less.

Judges are looking for someone who can ride well under any circumstances and on any horse, not just on a push-button reiner.  As a queen you are often put on a mount that is not well-trained.  Be prepared!

Use a jump mount if you can.  But, if you cannot do it every time, don't take a chance of missing it. 

While riding acknowledge the judges and audience, but you shouldn't look at them constantly.  Know where you are going at all times.  Look up and ahead of your horse.

Use good posture while on your horse at all times.  The judges are watching while you are warming up and waiting to go into the arena.  No slouching, throwing your leg over the horn, etc.

Look like you love being on your best friend and like you are having the time of your life!  Riding your horse is what it is all about!   Enter the arena with complete confidence and keep that positive attitude throughout the whole ride.  Don't let anything destroy your confidence - a bad draw horse, poor arena conditions, rain...

Never get angry at your horse while at a contest.  It isn't his fault if you haven't prepared him properly!  Now is not the time to school your horse.  The training should be done before the contest.

While riding your pattern, do not pat your horse.  He knows he's doing a good job just by the way you are riding! 

During your buzz, wave!  Wave naturally and all of the way around the arena.  SMILE!  A fast, controlled buzz is most appealing to the judges and the audience.  Do it at a safe distance from the rail, but don't go into towards the middle of the arena.  Ride around the whole arena, don't cut off the corners.

Keep your hat on!  A queen never loses her hat.  Pins and double sided sticky tape will do the trick.  Don't take the chance and think it's tight enough.  Sweating, the wind, or a flag whipping around; many things can happen to make your hat come off.

When carrying a flag other than the National Flag, tilt it at an angle (about 70 degrees ) during the National Anthem.  The Stars and Stripes are held straight up above the others.  It is an honor to carry the flag, treat it with complete respect.

Make sure your horse is freshly washed and clipped.  Trim his bridle path, ears, coronet band, and all whiskers on his face.  Carry a disposable razor with you at all times for fast trim jobs!  Make sure his nose is clean.  Use baby oil on it for a professional look.  Scrub his hooves clean and polish at your own preference.

Your saddle and all tack need to be in good repair and clean.  Use a toothbrush to get detailed design work clean.  Polish the silver.  Use leather equipment if possible, not nylon.  Do not neglect the stirrups!

If you have a new saddle, ride in it.  Make sure the stirrups are turned and that you have ridden enough to take the squeaks out of it!

Your saddle pad needs to be clean and free of dirt, straw, etc.  It's a nice touch if you can match your pad to your outfit.  If you are using boots (which you should) make sure that they are clean and match the rest of the tack.  Bright orange boots are cute, but they are distracting to the judges.

No tie-downs.  Most judges will disqualify a contestant for using one.

Use split reins, not roping reins!  Make sure that your reins are not too long.

Can you open an arena gate while on your horse?  Some contest coordinators will have the queens do this.

After your pattern make sure that you "present" to the audience and the judges meaning, turn  toward the judges on your horse and do a small wave and then exit the arena.