I went from hanging with the Okies in Oklahoma to the Arkies in Arkansas! I spent a weekend in Pryor, Oklahoma at the 4-Way IPRA Rodeo and then traveled on to Huntsville, Arkansas for the 23rd Annual Madison Co. IPRA Rodeo.
Traditions are something I see at most rodeos and that was no exception at the 4-Way Rodeo. The first night they held bouncy horse races, where four spectators would race around a cone and back on an inflatable horse. The first one to cross the line won $50 and then a subsequential amount after that for the following places. After watching it, I knew I had to get a piece of the action. Later that evening I was asked to compete the following night. As you all know, I am always in it to win it and I was ready to bring the heat. As night two rolls around, I have to hustle to put my horse up and take my spurs off to get ready to bounce! It was a close race but I came in 2nd with a $25 prize! This activity was totally worth it.
While in Pryor, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Dale Yerigan, the General Manager of the International Professional Rodeo Association. It was interesting to pick his brain about what the rest of this year will look like for the IPRA. As we all know, rodeo has taken quite a hit this year with the majority of rodeos being cancelled. Dale and I both are optimistic about what the International Finals Rodeo will look like in January at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. In these uncharted waters all we can do is continue to look to the future and plan the best we can.
It was a short week between Pryor and Huntsville, and it was fun to be back with the same crew. Hampton Rodeo Company provided stock for both of these rodeos which usually means working with the same announcer, pickup men, and bullfighters. It definitely makes for an easy transition from one rodeo to the next because it’s all the same folks! I have enjoyed getting to know and grow my rodeo family this year! The friends I’ve made through rodeo will always be some of the best!
The first night in Huntsville was pretty eventful as I was caught off guard by a guinea pig and a squirrel! Before Thursday night slack, I was preparing by checking on my mount for the evening, gathering up my chaps, and fetching the American Flag when I had to take a second glance at a ball of fluff in the arms of a young girl. Once I finally figured out what she had, which was a guinea pig, I got a pretty good chuckle out of a sight I had never seen at a rodeo before! That night obviously one strange critter wasn’t enough. I was watching team roping and noticed a squirrel climb up the electrical pole and start to lose its grip. It then proceeded to go soaring on to the arena floor. The poor thing looked a bit stunned and scurried across to the other side. A few of the bystanders noticed what I saw and we were all just as shocked. Again, we all got good laugh out of an unfamiliar visitor to the rodeo arena.
While in Huntsville, I got to attend my first parade of the year! I came ready for the occasion with my Hoofie wraps, flower bouquet, and Gypsy Tail mane feathers! Parades are such a fun time to really get decorated up. That morning I turned a plain palomino horse into a sparkly and colorful piece of art! He really looked great and didn’t seem to mind all the pampering. We sported a patriotic themed ensemble as we carried the American Flag through the streets of Huntsville. The best highlight in the last couple weeks was that my sister got to come down to attend the parade and rodeo on Saturday night in Huntsville! She is currently living in Arkansas and it was just too close for her not to show up. I find it amazing how much your spirits rise when you’re around your family, especially when you don’t get to see them all the time. I am so thankful I got to spend time with my one and only favorite sister!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: It was bound to happen at some point this year and I hear that Huntsville apparently has a curse for the rodeo queen. As equestrians, we know it’s not a matter of if but when we might hit the dirt and it was my turn! During the grand entry I was on a horse I have ridden multiple times this year, including the night before for the slack performance and he was great. He was very agile, responsive, fun to ride, and honestly one of my favorites this year up until Friday night. Before the rodeo, it poured down rain for about 20 minutes making the arena a muddy mess. Who really knows why this sorrel got a wild streak but he did and sent me straight to the dirt after I hung on for a few seconds but could not quite recover. The only thing I could do was get back on and reenter for the remainder of the opening ceremonies. When things like this happen I can’t help but wonder why they even hired a clown because frankly I provided all of the entertainment Friday night!
Queens Corner: Take advantage of the opportunities that arise when you are on the road traveling. While in Arkansas, my host family offered to take me riding at their arena. We saddled up and I got to ride a half draft horse named Grace. The owner was taking all the extras off the saddle and I stopped him and said to leave the rope, I might want to swing it around some. While we were riding, he brings out the roping dummy sled and starts dragging it around for me and I go for it and caught about three times within a good 10 tries. We stopped there because it was getting dark. I then proceeded to tell him I’d never roped behind a sled like that. He was shocked! This goes to show you that you never know what you can do until you give yourself an opportunity to try it! I could’ve easily said that I didn’t know how to and not have roped but instead I took the courage I had and made it happen. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you might surprise yourself!
Typically the couple weeks surrounding the 4th of July are considered the richest weeks of rodeo. Therefore, this time is commonly called Cowboy Christmas because contestants have a chance to rake in the money by competing at multiple, big money rodeos in a short amount of time. This year definitely didn’t set any records on how much money was up for grabs but at least we had rodeos to attend! I traveled from Canadian, Texas to Moline, Kansas for the 4th of July. The following weekend I stayed in my home state and attended the Fort Scott, Kansas rodeo. It felt good to be headed from one rodeo to the next especially during the most patriotic time of year!
While starting out in Texas, part of me felt like I was in Canada when referring the Canadian rodeo in Texas. This was a quick one performance stop as I was headed back from Amarillo, Texas and Canadian was right on the way. Without hesitation I added it to my schedule to stop there on the 2nd of July. I was excited for this rodeo not only to break up the drive back to Kansas but also because I’m good friends with the stock contractor which was the Medicine River Rodeo Company! I have spent many hours at rodeos with this crew and it was just as fun as I remembered.
I finished out the holiday weekend in Moline, Kansas with Big Horn Rodeo. The best part of working with them is the two little girls that come along to each rodeo. Liz is the stock contractor’s daughter and Annika is one of their pickup men’s daughters. We laugh, play, and just enjoy life. They make me forget about how hot it might be or how late it is after slack. I sometimes can’t always answer all the “but why” questions that any typical 4 and 6 year old have but I sure do get a kick out of them!
Moving forward to Fort Scott, I ended up riding quite a few different horses in just one performance! For perspective, I typically ride one to two different horses in a weekend. So it was very comical by the end of the first night when I had swung my leg over four different mounts between the performance and slack! My favorite equine athlete of the weekend was a retired bucking horse who was now used as a pickup horse to clear the arena after rough stock events. He was calm and easy going but was big and could tow a bull right out of the arena if needed.
I stuck around in the Sunflower State for one more rodeo and went the following Tuesday and Wednesday to an IPRA rodeo in Erie, Kansas. I felt like the red carpet was laid out for me as I arrived in this small town. Everyone was so willing to say hello and help me with whatever I needed. Committees at each event work hard all year to put on their hometown rodeo and they do it for the same reason that I do! It’s for the sport and community we love. The friendships and family you make along the way make up for all the hard work and sweat, especially in the dead of summer with no breeze in Kansas. I was back with Big Horn Rodeo Company this rodeo which meant more time with Liz and Annika. This week the girls really wanted to start carrying flags in the grand entry. I got them hooked up with flag boots and they both successfully carried flags! I was so proud of them both for trying something new.
The best part about spending time at rodeos in the state of Kansas is the friends and family that get to come out and see me in action! I can’t quite put into words how much it means to see those special people sitting in the stands with a familiar smile on their faces as I ride by. It seriously means the world to me and I sure hope they know!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: I have been asked to sign a number of items throughout the years like boots, hats, and t-shirts. When walking through the crowd in Moline, Kansas a group of kids asked me if I had the letter “O” in my name and I of course said yes and that my name was Brooke. The next thing I knew one of then asked me to sign my name on their stomach using their belly button as one of the “O” in my name. I definitely was caught off guard but figured it didn’t hurt anything and agreed to it. They of course couldn’t believe I agreed and I could tell they got quite a kick out of it. After a number of laughs, I bid them goodbye and couldn’t help but shake my head as I giggled while walking away.
Queens Corner: One helpful trick I picked up while being a rodeo queen over the last six years is to wear compression socks when I know I will be on my feet most of the day. I couldn’t believe how much it helped my aching feet by the end of the night. The other great benefit is that my socks don’t fall down and I don’t have to work about getting rub marks on my legs after hours on horse for performances and slack.
I’m not completely oblivious to the fact that clay can make dirt different shades in addition to brown. I have seen red dirt in Oklahoma, but to my surprise when I pulled up to Marion, Alabama rodeo arena, I was in awe because the dirt was orange. Straight up orange!
The 25th Annual Marion Rodeo was definitely one for the books. I was so impressed with all the fun and interactive events that were held during the rodeo in addition to the traditional events you typically see. This committee definitely puts on this rodeo for the crowd! Before the opening ceremonies, they had a Mardi Gras parade for all the kids. They piled into the back of a truck and threw beads to the audience as they were caravanned around the arena. At first, I was thinking what is going on? After seeing all the enjoyment from the crowd and children, I totally understood why it is a tradition in this small town.
Marion put on a very moving national anthem, with a flag held open on a fire truck in the middle of the arena. It’s interesting to see each unique flag presentation while traveling and working with different committees. I was honored to then lead the grand entry with all the contestants filing in behind for both nights after the presentation of the colors. The next thing I knew we were dragging tarps out into the arena as the announcer was inviting kids nine and under to come in for a gold rush. The kids could come out and dig through the hay for prizes. After 60 seconds of digging the fun was moved out behind the bleachers for the kids to find every last penny in the pile of hay. We watched kids play for the entire rodeo. It’s amazing the simple things in life every kid can’t get enough of.
Along with all the events, the West Point Royalty and I also helped with the calf scramble, adult cow scramble, steer dressing and mutton busting. By the end of the evening, it was very apparent that this small town rodeo was a highlight of the year with local contestants and trucks backed up to the arena for extra seating. I had many great conversations with local fans and even ran into Miss Rodeo USA 2013, Miss Lauren (Terry) Wilson! She was competing in the barrel racing Friday night of the weekend. Ironically enough, I had just stayed with her parents on my way to this rodeo. It was great to swap a few stories and enjoy the presence of someone who has been in your shoes before. After a few encouraging words from a former title holder we were both on our way with our duties for the evening.
As I look back on my first time in Alabama, I can’t help but chuckle a little. I had an unforgettable time and made many new memories. During my visit to Alabama I had to get a mare and foal back into their pen in high heeled booties and skinny jeans, wait to cross the road because of a momma skunk and her baby, and ask for multiple people to repeat themselves a handful of times because I’m not used to that Southern drawl. It’s the little things when you’re off on an adventure that you remember the most, like when the rodeo clown has to fire you the second performance. Don’t worry that story made the bloopers section this time.
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: Bottom line I messed up a clown act. Here’s the back story… I will always volunteer to help with anything and everything I can at a rodeo even if that means to be the punch line of the clown’s joke. I’m definitely not a stranger to acting a part in front of a crowd. My job was to walk out into the arena and pick up a small horse whip as the clown thinks I’m his significant other. He then gets closer to me, says another joke then I pretend to hit him and storm off because I’m not his significant other. Well I came out into the arena too early so the clown sent me back out making a joke about missing the cue and that he would tell me when to come out. All in all, it was still funny and we joked about it later. I’m going to blame my mess up on all the thick accents down in Alabama.
Queens Corner: We as rodeo ambassadors always try to put our best foot forward. We continue to represent the sport we love regardless of the absence of accolades received in return. That’s not why we do choose to do it in the first place. It’s important to remember that you are making more of an impact than you realize and it takes that one person every once in a while that reaches out to you to remember why we do what we do. My advice to all the rodeo queens out there this week is to continue to push forward and always be the best you can be in any situation because you never know when that nice little compliment will be in your inbox. Let me tell you what, it is worth it and makes doing our job even more satisfying.