Despite being the representatives for the rodeos and the organizations, doing the “dirty work” that the competitors don’t typically want to be a part of, rodeo queens have been the burden of many stereotypes. I am here to de-bunk some of these!
- Rodeo queens are only rodeo queens because they aren’t good enough to actually compete in the rodeo. If you are a horse person, than you probably saw the stunning reining freestyle at the 2015 Kentucky Reining Cup, you know, the Frozen themed inspired one? The one that WON the entire competition? Newsflash: That was 2015 Miss Rodeo Mississippi Laura Sumrall! Alright, I can hear you critics arguing, That’s NOT a rodeo event, doesn’t count… That’s fine. Let’s recap to the 2013 Miss Rodeo America Chenae (Shiner) Vest who led the amateur barrel racing standings until her horse got injured… so she ran for Miss Rodeo Utah (won) and then had a quick turn around and won the coveted Miss Rodeo America title. Prior to her state level, Chenae was also Miss High School Rodeo America while being a dominant competitor. Miss Rodeo California 2015 and Miss Rodeo Oregon 2013 proudly displayed their… mulemanship? That’s right, they were seen competing (MRO2013) and participating in the parade at the Bishop Mule Days in Bishop, California in their respective years. How about Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2013, who hazes professionally for her little brother a steer wrestler? Or Miss Rodeo Florida 2013 who trains barrel horses with none other than Fallon Taylor?
- Rodeo queens are obsessed with their looks. Follow any rodeo queen on Instagram and you’ll see the reality of queens, hair and make-up. “Either dressed to the tee or sweats it is!” 2014 Miss Rodeo Idaho Hali Stutzman can be seen captioning one of her pictures and this statement is very true. Rodeo queens are a representative of their rodeo board, their state, and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association; it is their job to always be presentable. Where a contestant in the arena may get away without wearing a one hour make-up regiment, the queens don’t have that luxury. No matter what happens in the arena, they are going to be in charge of talking to the radio stations, news cameras, reporters, and the fans. They don’t get to go sulk in the back if they knock a barrel or miss their calf. It is their respect for the industry that they spend all of their time taking care to make sure they are promoting a positive image for the industry. When they aren’t dressed for a rodeo queen performance whether it be a parade, rodeo performance, public speaking opportunity or volunteerism, you will see them just like every other human being; sweat pants and no make-up!
- Rodeo queens can’t function without their moms. A common staple on the “to-go” list for rodeo queens is, believe it or not, their mom! A lot of rodeo queens get their start when they are younger, meaning that their mothers have been there through ever step of the way. It’s not that they can’t function without them but rodeo queens need at least one able hand to help them at every rodeo. Why? Because they, like every true horsewomen, love their horse, their companion in the arena. Who do you trust your most beloved possessions too? Your family or closest family friends. Therefore you will often see a queen giving hurried mother-hen words to their mom or dad before being drug off to an interview or to a youth event, nervously looking over their shoulder as their “child” aka their horse, is taken back for a good brushing and a fresh bucket of water. If you break it down though, moms are every where in the rodeo world. Fixing boo-boos on equine and child alike, driving truck and trailer late into the night so that the tired competitors can sleep in the back, darning ripped clothes, starching jeans, and so much more; they are just being moms and who doesn’t love their mom?
- Rodeo queens’ heads are so full of hairspray that they don’t have anything left for brains. It is a true statement that the more rodeo queens there are in the world, the more shares that should be purchased in AquaNet or Aussie Hairspray products. What a lot of people don’t realize is that in order to win a rodeo queen pageant they must know a lot of information whether it’s equine related, rodeo related, or about politics. The extensive amount of information that the average state rodeo queen has to know is the equivalent of a pre-veterinarian major. Rodeo queens have to have the capabilities to have a conversation with anyone whether that is an innocent rodeo-newbie bystander or the winning veterinarian of the year end Zoetis award.
- Rodeo Queens started because they wanted to have girls in the arena. Wrong. Did you know that women competed alongside cowboys for most of the early years of rodeo? Think of Mabel Strickland, who won back to back steer roping titles in Pendleton and Cheyenne. Unlike their urban equivalents, women like Annie Oakley were shooting, roping, and riding broncs in rodeos and wild west shows through most of the late 1800s to 1900s. One of the most significant dates to remember about women in rodeo is Bonnie McCarroll, the bronc rider who died in a tragic accident at the Pendleton Round-Up in 1929 but the counter argument states that crowds were already becoming uncomfortable with women competing next to men in such rough and tumble sports. Singing cowboy legend Gene Autry brought women back into the picture with sponsored ranch girls who would carry their sponsor or ranches’ flags while also competing in pageants and demonstrating horsemanship. The competitions between Autry’s ranch girls led to the formation of barrel racing which in turn promoted youth, high school and college rodeo; proving that women were good enough to compete in the rodeo again where we can now see them involved in most associations.
How many of you, like me, thought that these stereotypes were the truth?
Hopefully none after reading this! The original rodeo queen was a sharp shooting, bronc riding, beauty of the rodeo. Hats off to these triple threat cowgirls and long live rodeo!