I had never heard of a rodeo queen when my daughter decided she wanted to try out for our local rodeo queen contest. Sure, we rode horses and went to the rodeo every year but that was about it. Little did I know how our lives would change when she started competing and became a rodeo queen! In the rodeo world this is known as "queening." It is a demanding world but most young women will say that their queening days were the best of their lives. They learned skills that benefited them in all other aspects of their life.
If you have ever been to a rodeo you have most likely seen a beautiful girl wearing her crown and banner while proudly carrying the American flag before the rodeo started. But, you probably had no idea of the hard work and long hours that it took for her to achieve this honor.
A rodeo queen must compete in a judged contest much like other pageants to win her title with almost all of the same categories that are common in the other types of pageants. There is one significant difference in the judging categories. Horsemanship. Instead of a performance talent, a rodeo queen must perform with a 1200-pound partner, her horse. Every rodeo queen contestant must know everything there is to know about horses, inside and out.
During horsemanship a queen contestant must ride a well-trained horse in a designated reining pattern, often calling for fast spins and sliding stops. Good riding skills on a good horse are a must to execute these patterns. In many contests the contestant might be required ride several horses in several different venues while being judged. She may be required to move cattle in the arena and ride in the local parade through town.
Most rodeo queens have experience as contestants in the rodeo events such as barrel racing and team roping and are excellent riders. Queens are required to travel and appear at other rodeos and oftentimes are unable to take their own horse so she must have the skills to ride any horse that is supplied to her when she arrives at the rodeo.
Horsemanship doesn't stop with just knowing how to ride a horse. The contestant will be interviewed and tested on equine science knowledge as well. She must know all about equine diseases, breeds of horses, feeding and caring for horses, horse tack and equipment, and anything else a judge might ask about horses or riding in general.
An important category in a rodeo queen contest is personality. A rodeo queen is the ambassador for the sport of rodeo and represents her sport throughout the year. It is her job to answer questions in the classroom, represent her rodeo at other events, make publicity appearances promoting her rodeo, and talk to fans who attend the rodeo. You will find her visiting schools, hospitals, at grand openings, and doing volunteer service work. She must be able to talk to first graders or the Governor of her state! Having an enthusiastic and warm personality with a genuine love for rodeo and people are traits that are sought-after in all rodeo queens.
Appearance is the third most important category in a rodeo queen contest. A rodeo queen must wear western apparel at all times and be immaculate in her grooming. She can spend thousands of dollars on just one outfit! It is not uncommon for a contestant to take over a dozen pair of colored boots to a contest to match her outfits. Her clothes must the current western fashion, fit well, be appropriate for each event she attends, and complement her personal style. She will judged from the top of her hat to the soles of her boots in the appearance category.
Other commonly judged categories in a rodeo queen contest include public speaking, speech, impromptu speaking, rodeo knowledge test, modeling, interviews, and photogenics. Each contest determines their own categories for judging and the importance of each category in their over-all scoring. These categories are the generally common in most contests.
A rodeo queen must be well spoken and be able to answer a variety of questions from the public. In order to prove that she will be able to do this she is required to deliver a well-prepared timed speech, usually on a rodeo related topic, and be able to answer a variety of on-stage questions. The questions may be about rodeo, horsemanship, current events, and general personality topics.
Modeling western wear clothes for major rodeo sponsors is often an honor that is enjoyed by a rodeo queen. Instead of modeling a swimsuit in the contest she will be judged on how she walks, stands, and sits in western styled clothing including western pants and leather dresses complete with hat, belt and buckle, and matching boots.
A queen will be interviewed to determine her knowledge and personality. In some contests she might be interviewed several times by a panel of qualified judges. She is applying for the job of representing a rodeo and the interviews are often conducted like a business interview. She must exhibit that she has knowledge not only about the rodeo and equine world but also about the world around her.
A rodeo queen is often photographed and signs autograph tearsheets for fans and so a final category in the contest is photogenics. A head and shoulders photograph is generally what is required to be submitted by each contestant to be judged for this portion of the contest. The contestant is judged on her general appearance and the genuine warmth that shines through to the judges.
A queen contest can last as long as a week and requires many long hours of study and practice. Most of the girls sacrifice a great deal of time and money to become a rodeo queen and once they win and hold the title they have a busy year of appearances and travel.
The next time you attend a rodeo, look for a rodeo queen and take the time to talk to her. You will find a well-rounded young woman with high moral values, a good work ethic, a genuine love for life and a girl who knows how to ride a horse like a cowboy but looks like a lady!