Notes from Judging a Rodeo Queen Pageant

This weekend I judged a rodeo queen pageant, something that I am relatively new too. Being a rodeo queen judge is interesting because you have to look as nice as the contestants, you have to know more than the contestants about general knowledgeable items, and you have to be able to keep an open mind and help them out with everything that they do. I figured that I would put some notes in here to help those who were thinking about trying out for a rodeo queen title, judging one, or just curious about rodeo queening.

  • Appearance – In a one day rodeo queening event with a mandatory black hat/white shirt/blue jeans how do you win appearance? Doing the details, that’s how.
    • You need to starch and iron your jeans and western shirt, polish your boots (black) and a matching black belt.
    • Keeping your hair freshly curled throughout the pageant is going to be a must and to do so you will need to put your hair in hot curlers the night before.
    • Hot curlers will be your best friend because, when properly used, will provide you with a longer lasting curl that will survive through horsemanship, speeches and interviews. Take with you a curling iron that you can use to touch up your hair in between events.
    • Darker make-up will be needed for your horsemanship portion of the contest as you will need to have an almost stage make-up like presence in order to create more personality for yourself from a distance. You will need lighter make-up for your interview and speech as the judges and audience will be much closer. If your horsemanship portion is at the end of the day, you should be able to just naturally darken your eye makeup, add some rouge, apply a brighter/darker lipstick and thicken your eye liner. If horsemanship is first, as it typically is in a one-day pageant, then you may have to consider checking your time schedule to complete remove, re-prime and then re-apply your make up in a lighter fashion for the rest of the day.
  • Horsemanship – Understanding everything about your horse health, fitness, and performance-wise is the most vital portion of this sector.
    • Knowing what your horse eats, how much of it, and why should be common knowledge for you. Knowing the last time the horse had it’s teeth done, sheath cleaned (geldings), farrier work completed (including what size of shoe), and to be able to comfortably move around your horse is a very important aspect.
    • Understanding your equipment, keeping it in clean/oiled working order, and knowing why you use what you use. What size tree is your saddle? What type of saddle do you use and why? How do you make sure your breast collar, back cinch, tie-down, curb chain, etc. fit properly? What type of bit do you use and why?
    • Staying cool, calm and confident on your horse is one of the biggest keys that I look for when judging. Understanding your horse and what he/she does best is going to optimize your performance in the show pen. Working with your animal is going to be the biggest key – a horse that is swishing it’s tail, throwing it’s head, and violently moving any of it’s feet (bucking, rearing, striking) means that the horse is definitely not comfortable and that is on you as the rider.
    • When preparing for a rodeo queen pageant contestants usually spend a lot of time riding the own horse as well as seeking advice via trainers or those who are currently in the business. While this is all fine and dandy, they forget about the draw horses. Ride a lot of other horses and not just horses that are EXACTLY like your own or trained similarily to yours. Go out and find horses, mules, donkeys, ponies, and zebras that are NOTHING like your own horse! This will prepare you for anything and to help you embrace that strange feeling when you first get on a new horse; in essence you are trying to make the uncomfortable comfortable – this will be your biggest advantage in the draw horse portion of the rodeo queen pageant.
    • Speed and energy! Nothing drives me more crazy than a rodeo queen contestant that is afraid to go fast. Why are you even trying out? It’s not that speed is needed for the flash of being a rodeo queen, not by any means, speed is necessary in rodeo for safety means. You need to be able to handle your horse safely and with the intent of keeping you, your horse, and others in the arena safe. Speed, rollbacks, and control are all important aspects that, as a judge, I am expecting you to exemplify.
  • Speeches
    • Know your speech topic, have a point and get it across. Don’t ramble, don’t talk about yourself (unless that is the topic) and don’t use note cards.
    • Note cards are so frustrating as a judge. The long awkward pauses when the contestant forgets where they are so they quickly read the entire paper in their hand is just not becoming. A lot of the times, when contestants pull out a note card to use, they end up reading off of it the entire time anyway and forget to make any sort of eye contact with the audience.
    • Eye contact with your audience is important. First and foremost is the rule of 3’s; pick a point on your left, in front of you and on your right. Then you are going to periodically look at varying levels of depth in each of these sections while reciting your speech.
    • Use your stage and create a presence. It gets boring when you just stand there like a post and recite your speech. Use inflection in your voice, be theatrical and entertaining! Move around the stage, change your height, and continue to captivate your audience.
  • Interviews
    • Understand your platform (and I don’t mean the heels) and what your goal for being the representative of that organization is. Knowing your theme and sticking to it will not only keep you organized but give you an added value of maturity as you will come across as a young woman who knows exactly what she wants and what her purpose is.
    • Wait until asked to be seated. Shake the judges hands before and after and even consider re-introducing yourself if you haven’t spoken with them as of yet.
    • Sit ladylike and attentively on the edge of your chair. Show that you are engaged in the conversation.
    • Don’t ramble, but allow your personality to come through – this is the most important part of the interview process: allowing the judges to get to know you.
    • Be prepared to not know the answer to a question. You can approach this either one of two ways. The traditional way is to tell the judges that you will look up the answer and get back to them later but make sure that you follow through on this. Know your agenda with the pageant and if you will have the time to speak with the judges later. The unconventional way that, as a judge, that I like is if you use deductive reasoning to give your best guess answer.

Hopefully this will help some of you out as you look at either competing or judging a rodeo queen pageant.




7 thoughts on “Notes from Judging a Rodeo Queen Pageant

    1. It’s so interesting!
      At first I was really uncomfortable with judging. I have never been an official big named “Rodeo Queen” before so I feel like it’s the blind leading the blind to an extent. I have become more comfortable with the pageants the more that I have judged just because I understand what my strengths are and how I can use my education from college in order to help the girls in a more specific category.
      The best part about judging pageants is the interviews, this is my favorite time! It allows you the opportunity as a judge to get the contestant to relax and really show off their true personality. I can’t tell you how hard I have laughed during these portions with the ridiculous stories the girls tell. I am very excited to continue with judging and I think it’s about high time that I tried out for a pageant myself! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually that’s a big reason why I started writing. I have kept a journal since I was in the 2nd grade. Then, about two years ago, I had a teacher challenge me to keep a book about all of my crazy relationship and social standards theories so then I started that. I have done some script writing and made some videos. I guess I just like to write, to tell stories and mainly to share my experiences.
        I won’t be able to blog during the actual pageant that I am trying out for since it is a week long adventure and you are allowed no outside contact or social media for the entire period.
        I started riding horses when I was in third grade in a valiant attempt by my mother to not have me burn out on sports. I became very passionate about horses and my sport which led to a lot of success and a lot of great connections for me.
        I am so blessed because I am able to ride almost every day depending on my scheduling. I work 2 jobs and go to school as well as volunteer with youth. I have my original horse, a 32″ miniature horse named Dude, my original riding horse (a 16 hand paint horse named Maddy), my rodeo horse Holly (who is currently pregnant) and then Sweetness (Holly’s first foal that I acquired just a few months ago for a penny!). I have my hands full but I couldn’t be happier!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Awesome!! Too bad you can’t blog throughout it though.

        When is she due??

        I ride my grandfather’s horses, Amy (15 year old Morgan), Smoky Joe, (15 year old Haflinger/Quarter Horse cross we bought from the Amish) and his mule, Okey (9 years old). I’m looking into buying a colt this spring and starting to train (my lifelong dream). You have any tips?


      3. My daughter has been in a few contest, she has won and lost. My only problem with judges is that they are not consistent from contest to contest. Example; one girl in horsemanship couldn’t pivot her horse she tried several times, they disqualified her. Another contest one contestant tried pivoting the horse for 3 min and she won horsemanship, this give a totally different message to the contestants. They have no idea what they should do. I realize that judges are usually volunteers from different walks of life but there still should be some regulations.
        Thank you for your information, very helpful

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Holly is due may-june!!! I homestly try to stay out of tips for training, I don’t feel qualified in that department. When it comes to getting a horse though I usually only get slightly more matured of a horse. That way … Actually I feel like I should just do a whole blog post on this because it will be a long response haha


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