The horsemanship portion of rodeo queen contests can vary in so many ways from contest to contest.

Each contest will set their own rules and patterns so be prepared for just about everything.

Knowing how to ride a horse extremely well is the most important part of being a rodeo queen.  After all, you are representing the western way of life and knowing how to ride is what it's all about!  The contest coordinator will do all she can to determine how well you ride, under all circumstances, and so has a horsemanship category to find out your skills. 

Each contest will have different requirements for the queen who represents them.  Some will have their queens travel to other rodeo's and want them participating in grand entries or riding in parades for the whole season. Others will want their queen on horseback the whole time, in the arena helping during the rodeo chasing and penning calves.  When they want their queen on horseback a majority of the time they will score the horsemanship category higher in points than the other categories.  They are looking for someone who will represent like a real cowgirl. 

As a rodeo queen you may travel without your own horse and be expected to ride others in strange arena's and so it is best to prepare for anything and everything!

Rodeo Queen in HorsemanshipCredit: jmwilding

Patterns: The pattern can go from very simple to a complete reining pattern with spins and sliding stops.  Have the pattern memorized so well that no matter what distraction you encounter you automatically know how it runs.  Some contests will have a freestyle reining competition.  This can be your time to show what you can do with your horse.  If you have the opportunity to "dress up" and perform a freestyle pattern, make the most of it.  Dream up something fun that the audience and judges will enjoy watching.  Audience appeal goes a long way with the judge.  Often the music and costume are as important as the elements of the pattern you execute.  If you are given the option of doing this for a contest - do it!  Occasionally you will be asked to execute a "walk, trot, lope" or equestrian pattern so make sure you are familiar with the procedures for this.

Trading horses:  In many contests you will ride your own horse for a pattern and then the girls will ride a draw horse, a horse you draw, for another pattern.  Often, this is usually trading with the other contestants.  Currently, this is what they do at most state contests.  You may also encounter a contest in which all of the horses are brought in and the girls draw for them.  This is what they do at Miss Rodeo America and at Miss Rodeo USA.  When you draw horses you are generally required to also use the saddle and tack that comes with the horse.  It is important to inquire about the use of spurs on the horse.  The horses that are brought in can be reiners, cutting horses, team roping horses, etc.  So be prepared to ride any type of horse with all types of saddles, bits, etc.  Usually you are given a few minutes to warm the horse up so that you can get a feel for what he can and cannot do.

Livestock: Many contests will require you to do some work with calves.  This may consist of a simple working cow-horse type of pattern or just moving and turning a calf before you run it into a chute.  Make sure your horse is familiar with cattle before you go to a contest. 

Grand Entries and Working Calves: In a few contests you will be judged on your grand entry performance and how you work calves while in the arena during a rodeo.  Do you know where to stand with your horse?  Are you prompt when moving the calves out of the arena?  Do you know how to inter-act with the clown or other elements in the arena?  Do you know how to carry a flag and how to hold it during the National Anthem?  Many contest directors will want to make sure that you know all of these requirements of being a good rodeo queen.

Presentation Ride or the Buzz: This is the part of the pattern where the contestant rides around the arena and waves to the audience.  You will probably be required to also buzz with a flag.  Here is where you can show personality and showmanship!  Most judges are looking for a fast but controlled ride. 

Tack and Grooming Check: Make sure that you have prepared well here!  Most contests will have the girl’s line up on their horses for a complete inspection by the judges.  They will make sure that your equipment is legal, in good condition, and clean.  They are not looking for the most expensive or fanciest tack and equipment.  The judges will also check the grooming on your horse; is he clipped and clean, is he properly shod, and does the equipment fit him?  This is extremely important!

Mount and Dismount: Usually the older contestants will be required to walk their horse into the arena and then mount before riding her pattern.  If you have an interview during horsemanship you will then have to dismount and re-mount your horse.  Each contest has specific rules concerning mounting.

Horsemanship Interview: This can be a separate interview, but in the smaller contests it is often during horsemanship.  You will usually dismount and hold your horse while the judges are asking questions.  Practice holding your horse still so that you can concentrate on your answers.  Normally the questions will be only horsemanship related but who knows, some judges like to throw you a little curve ball and ask something that is totally unrelated.

Personal Grooming: Follow the rules!  Some contests will have specific clothing requirements, follow them exactly.  If they do not specify the outfit, keep it form-fitting and simple but eye-catching.  The arena conditions into account for your colors.  When in dark, indoor arenas, use bright colors.