Almost one year ago, I was embarking on a journey that I had spent years into making come true. I had no idea that I would walk away with lifelong friends, amazing memories, or even the crown. Standing out in the arena floor at the International Finals rodeo with eleven other amazing women, I took in just what a blessing it was to make it to that point. I remember that moment just like it was yesterday, but yet it has been almost a year. The announcer called my name as the 2017 Miss Rodeo USA and it took a minute for me to realize what just happened. I did all the customary things of stepping out and waving, grinning from ear to ear, to taking my first ride around the arena. Next, I was standing in the alleyway looking at the sign that said world champion. Those moments will forever be a part of me and I am truly grateful for each and every second on that day, January 15th, 2017.
I have traveled at least 75, 000 miles this year representing the International Professional Rodeo Association. Each mile has been a memory. I have been East to West, North to South, and all the way across the world. I have loved traveling and getting to see parts of the world that I would have never had this opportunity to view. Not only were the views amazing, but the people were priceless. There are so many amazing people in this world, especially the rodeo world. They have picked me up at airports, driven me around to sponsors, took me on adventures, and have blessed me with a memory of them. Many have become lifelong friends and people that I will always stay connected with.
I could never pick an absolute favorite part of my year because it was all pretty amazing. I have to say though, gaining a MRUSA sisterhood, friends, and the experiences that were a part of my year is what I will remember. I will always remember how the IPRA and MRUSA impacted my life and what they can do for so many other women who will follow behind me.
The last two weeks have been packed, much like how the last year has been! I have been doing final pageant preparations and working around the clock to get things together and ready to go. My biggest project has been scrapbooking. I wanted to create a book so that others may have an insight on what this year has been for me. Of course, one scrapbook wasn’t enough so I had to make a separate one for my trip to Australia! I hope you enjoy looking back through my year in my scrapbooks that will be on display at the host hotel in Oklahoma City!
During my time at home preparing for the pageant, I took time to record my farewell speech at a local recording studio. This was more bittersweet than I thought it would be. As I read through my speech, I was reminded of what this year has meant to me. I was reminded of all the memories, people, and experiences that I have been blessed to have. This was another item off my final to-do list that I checked off before I left home.
The day before I packed up to head West, I made a surprise visit to my cousin’s elementary school! My cousin is 6 years old and loves cowgirls! What 6 year old doesn’t?! I walked into her classroom and you should have seen her eyes light up! She instantly knew it was me and was so excited that I came to visit her. Her other classmates loved to hear about horses and get autographs! While I was in their school, I stopped by the special needs classroom to hand out autographs and spend some time with them. They also enjoyed the visit from a surprise guest! This was my last appearance as Miss Rodeo USA in my hometown.
I left for Oklahoma City on Tuesday, January 9th. It was a 10 and half hour drive that I made by rocking out to Pandora and calling friends. I arrived and started the long process of unloading all my stuff! I do believe that was more tiring than driving all day! The next day I went to the IPRA office and did some work with Lindsay! We worked on setting up my schedule and deciding what coffee place we would visit next. I visited sponsors and started on my school visits. The first school I went to was West Field Elementary. This school had 874 students all in the gymnasium and eager to hear about the rodeo! The staff was so friendly there and I am glad I was able to bring light about rodeo and the importance of staying focused to the students. I also visited their special needs classrooms and received hugs from all the kids! They each received personalized autographs from me and have the sweetest hearts! It always makes my day to see the little ones! I also visited Parkland Elementary and had a blast there with their students. One kindergartener asked me if I came from the desert. The next little boy said, “no, she came from the wild, wild west!” Oh, how I love how little ones think! School visits have been a big part and I am grateful for all of the memories I have with students all over the United States.
This week has also brought a lot of autograph sessions at local Oklahoma City sponsors. I have spent time at Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, Boot Barn, and Tener’s just to name a few. I am starting to learn my way around, but have still managed to take wrong turns frequently! Sometimes, I look back and wonder how I even made it to the places that I have been this year!
I have a week of media interviews lined up for me. I even did one bright and early this morning on Channel 9 here in OKC. The rest of the week is booked solid between promotions for the IFR and the start of our pageant on Tuesday! It is so exciting to be here, but hard to believe that it has already been a year!
This year could not have been possible without all of the support from sponsors, the Miss Rodeo USA Association board of directors, IPRA, and my family. Thank you to my Mom, Dad, and brother Chad for their continued support, sacrifices, and never ending love. My family has been one of my biggest supporters and I cannot express how thankful I am for them following my dream with me.
Thank you to the Miss Rodeo USA Board of directors for all of their continued support, guidance and help whenever I needed it. To the IPRA, stock contractors, announcers, clowns, bullfighters, judges, timers, and secretaries, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives this year. I am forever grateful for all the experiences I gained this year from you.
This year has been an opportunity of a lifetime. I cannot thank you all enough for your support, friendship, and love that I have received throughout the year. I am truly blessed to have been your 2017 Miss Rodeo USA!
Miss Rodeo USA
Follow the adventures of Miss Rodeo USA 2017 Brittany Howard as she travels the country representing the IPRA. Check back often for updates and new blogs!