Scary was my first thought about flying to another country all on my own and not knowing hardly anyone. My second thought was exciting and something that I had once only ever dreamed of. I never in my life thought that I would actually get to go across American soil and into another country and not just that but actually get to ride in a rodeo across the American soils!
I flew out of Nashville, Tennessee and landed hours later in Montreal, Canada! The scenery was very different there and everything was in French! Looking back now I wished I would have tried to learn a little from some online French courses or anything really!! Haha! Either way I waited at the airport in Montreal where I would be picked up. The only thing I knew was that the Wrangler Network team was going to be picking me up and taking me so St. Titie which was about a two hour drive from the airport. I received the text from Tim on the Wrangler Network team saying that he was there to pick me up and meet him outside. As I grabbed my belongings and started to make my way out of the airport a lady working in the baggage claim area yelled out to me, “if you leave you can’t come back.” I smiled and nodded, all I could think of was, what if she means NEVER what if I can never come back to the airport! Thankfully all she meant was just the baggage claim area! I met Tim outside and we loaded up grabbed some lunch and waited for Stew to get there, (another guy on the Wrangler Network team, who flew in a couple of hours later). Once we all loaded up we headed down the road to St. Tite, the traffic was insane and backed up for miles, our two hour drive turned into several!
It was dark when we reached St. Tite but we were able to find where we needed to be and got checked in for the week! They handed us wristbands that had a chip on them. Everywhere you went you had to scan your wristband, it was really cool. They were the VIP passes of course so I was able to go basically anywhere and everywhere I wanted with the wristband! I stayed in someone’s apartment while I was there. It was very different to sleep in someone's bed and to see pictures of their family hanging on the wall. They had left town for vacation in Paris while I stayed in their home. I spent the first night sleeping!! I was so tired from the plane trip!
The next day I went out and seen the sights, the rodeo had not started yet and the town was already packed! My first time trying to speak French was an epic fail! Ordering breakfast that morning I had hoped for coffee, eggs, and toast, little to my knowledge that's not what I had relayed to the people on the other side of the counter, I received coffee and toast! Haha!! My French obviously needs a little work!
Day two came around and we had two performances that day, one in the morning and one that night! Stephen and his crew had provided me a horse, she was absolutely beautiful! Her name was Pretty and she had been used in movies all over Canada, she came with her own trainer who would spend time grooming her, saddling her, and warming her up. Of course when she was brought to the back in the warm up area I was able to get on and do a little warm up as well! I never felt nervous getting on this horse or riding her, she was a cross with draft and quarter horse, she was what I like to call a gentle giant! She was so fun to ride! As I stood in the alley way that morning waiting for my turn to enter the area the announcers spoke in all French and there was one man standing at the edge of the alley who would wave me on when it was my turn. Pretty and I had entered the arena for the first time that morning. I could feel the energy from the crowd flowing through the horse, she started to lunge out as we hit the ground running, she then decided that it was too much and stopped and turned around on me! I was caught off balance and popped out of the saddle for a minute. No worries though we regathered ourselves and circled back around to make our queen lap! Everything was great after that but I sure could see how it was scary for her the entire crowd was above us and the crowd there was electric!! There is no way to ever explain how amazing the experience was! I ran all four performances of the Canadian Finals with Pretty and we had a blast!
I could literally write to y'all about this rodeo and we could be here for days about my experience but I do not want to keep you for that long! If you ever run into me and want to hear all about the amazing experiences that I was able to have while I was in Canada please reach out to me or even stop me when you see me next time and I will be sure to tell you all about it! Also be sure to check out the Wrangler Network on Facebook as I was able to catch and interview with them and you can check out the beautiful horse named Pretty and I as we made our way around the rodeo arena for four performances in Canada!!
Back towards the Midwest for some rodeos and I was sure to make a pit stop at home! It was my first time back in Iowa in almost seven months! When I walked through the front door of my home my folks and my brother were so happy to see me as I was them too! I never thought my mom was going to let go of me while hugging me! After getting settled in for the night we planned out day as mom and I took off the next morning bright and early for McBain, Michigan! As we headed out early the next morning we made the trip up north where we would get to do some sight seeing on our way! We made a pit stop in Traverse City, Michigan. It was my first time getting to see Lake Michigan and it was beautiful! Mother and I stopped at several of the small shops in the little tourist town and enjoyed our time together!
Once we left Traverse City we made our way to McBain where they hosted Cow Camp! We were welcomed by the entire Hughston family who put on the rodeo. It was such a cool place to have a rodeo! It was a dirt road that lead us to the arena that was located in the middle of a cattle pasture down some back roads! I was up bright and early the next morning for a TV interview right there at the arena! Mom slept of course and got all caught up! It was pretty cold there in Michigan, you would think that I’m used to the cold being from Iowa and all but believe it or not I am not at all used to it! As a matter of fact they all gave me a hard time for wearing my heavy coat and being from Iowa! The first night of the rodeo was amazing! Star Hughston put me on a great horse and I was able to do a quick fly by as they announced me. After that I was able to switch horses and help push back cattle in the arena! The second night was just the same! I rode several great horses and was able to be a big part of the rodeo with some very nice people! Before the rodeo that day they had an open roping event! I loved that and so did my mother! We sat and watched the roping for a good part of the day!
Since it was a three day weekend we had another rodeo to go to! We packed up and left out early Sunday morning and made our way to Lynwood, Illinois. Mike Latting was the stock contractor there and he welcomed us with open arms and made sure that mother and I were both taken care of! We had a blast, I was able to carry the American flag on one of the most amazingly colored horses that I had ever seen. That’s right I rode an appaloosa and not to mention he was blind!! I used to own my appaloosa who happened to be blind as well so I was not nervous about the ride! Once I was done riding that horse and carrying the flag they had me switch to another horse that I was able to help push cattle back in the arena. Both horses were awesome to ride and I had a ton of fun on them! Mother sat in the stands and took lots of pictures. Which was amazing by the way because I don’t usually have anyone to do that!
Once the rodeo was over we were not far from home and decided to head back so that I would be able to spend some more time with my family before I had to head back down the road and leave out for my next big adventure!
I had never been so happy in my life to see my family and to be able to spend some time with the animals at home! Of course while I was home I had to unload black betty and reload her for the next big trip on the road! Now that was a chore! You will see why on the next blog! Stay tuned to hear about the next big trip! As I sign off this time remember to hug your loved ones and to always spend time with them when you can. When you can’t or don’t always get to see them it makes it hard and makes the time with them very worthwhile! See you all soon and may God bless you all!
Bubba Oubre with Oubre Rodeo Company has always stood in my corner! When I called Bubba and asked to make an appearance at his rodeo in Marietta, Georgia for one night he said, “come on sis you know you can always come to one of my rodeo’s.” Bubba has become like a rodeo dad to me and I love that man to pieces! I pulled into Marietta that Friday night to be greeted by the crew and Bubba himself. Bubba introduced me to the man who puts on the rodeo there in Marietta and we found to have many things in common. The one thing you will learn about the people who rodeo is that they become a family to you the minute you shake their hand or the time you wrap your arms around them for a big hug. My rodeo family has grown this year better and stronger than I had ever imagined it would!
We started off the rodeo with prayer and anthem as I rode Kevin’s old trusty horse, John! I always enjoy riding the big grey horse and not to mention he sure does make a great photo as well! After presenting the colors and praying for our family I was able to help out in the arena and work cattle and clear the arena for the competitors! The rodeo ran so smooth and everyone had a great time! After the rodeo I had to make a decent drive to the next rodeo and help out there, but before I did I was sure to eat! The crew and I had decided to make an Applebee's run and get some food before I had to hit the road, plus I knew I was not going to get to see them for a little while and I wanted to spend some time with them! We ate good food and cut up about the rodeo and the different places and stores that we had encountered since we last saw each other!
After dinner I made the four to five hour drive over to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Of course a drive like that could not go smooth and without a hitch of some sort! I was only about an hour away or less actually from the stock contractors house where I was going to be staying and I see the red and blue lights in the rear view mirror. Dang it, I feel like I have meet more police officers this year than ever in my life! Haha! He pulled me over as my headlight had gone out. I did not know it was out so I was surprised to hear that it was. Thankfully the nice police officer let me go without a ticket, but not before he questioned the mass amount of stuff in my car! Therefore I had to explain my situation, “No officer I am not homeless, I just live in my car, please meet Black Betty the mobile home who carries Miss Rodeo USA across the country!” The officer got a good laugh out of me for sure!
Once I made it to Tony and Jamie’s house they got me all set up for a few hours of sleep and when I say a few I mean about three. I got up after some sleep and we made our way to the ball fields in town! This was just not any ball field though this field was built specifically for kids with special needs! The ground was built out of a special rubber that was perfect for wheelchairs, walkers, and anyone who may be a little unsure on their feet! The entire crew came out that morning and we all played softball with the kids! Talk about a blast! Never in my life had I seen so many kids light up and play with such enthusiasm! My heart was so full with all of the love!
When the ball games came to an end it was time for the rodeo to start! This rodeo was a little different though! Bulls, Barrels, and Broncs was what the show consisted of! Fast horses, and the bucking livestock was what brought in a crowd like I had never seen before! All of the proceeds for that rodeo went right into the ball fields that we played on that morning! I was beside myself when I saw the stands packed out that night! The entire community came together to see the show kick off with a bang. Now when I say kick off with a bang I mean it! Jim loves to shoot off fireworks, so of course he did! The entire crew and myself walked out into the arena at the beginning of the performance, as we stood in front of the bucking chutes Jim shoots off fireworks and lights up the arena. My black cowboy hat suffered a little bit as there are now burn marks on my hat, but I guess it made for a cool show! Ha ha! Thank you Jim I will never forget that as every time I look at my hat I think of the fireworks shooting and falling down around me that night!
As I'm back on the road now I will have to let you go! Please keep up with me though! I know things are starting to come to an end but I'm not thinking about that! There are so many journeys I still have left to make! I wanted to leave you all with something that I was thinking about the other day! Keep moving forward and continue to make every step of the path better than the next one. Although this will have to come to an end one day I will be able to remember how blessed I have been throughout this year and throughout my entire life!
Pawnee, Oklahoma not Prue, Oklahoma apparently my GPS was confused on my way to the rodeo in Pawnee, because I was as lost as lost can get! I punched the address into the GPS and headed down the road on my way to make the first portion of the Pawnee Bill Memorial Rodeo Queen Pageant, well little did I know that I was not going to make it in time. For those of you who know me know how much I can’t stand to be late! As I was lost in this town called Prue I stopped a local to ask where the rodeo was. The gentleman that I spoke to knew nothing about a rodeo, he had suggested that I call the police department as they know all the roads in the area and would be able to help me get to where I needed to go. I pulled over, whipped out my phone and dialed the local police department number that I had found on Google. A very nice man named Dennis helped me, he asked where I was and I explained. He quickly informed me that I needed to get out of there as it was not a good part of town, he gave me directions that I wrote down on the back of one of my autograph sheets. I soon learned that I still have a good 70 miles to go before I would be at the rodeo. Of course when I showed up I was late and had missed part of the pageant. Everyone there was so nice and understanding. We went on to continue with the pageant and I was able to meet all of the girls and even got to see one of my fellow Miss Rodeo USA contestants, miss Morgan Riggs! PS a huge congrats to her as she was crowned Miss Pawnee Bill Memorial Rodeo Queen! It came time to go to the rodeo and we started off the first night with queen runs. I was missed because Monty had forgot I was there or something but that’s ok because he announced me when I came in while carrying the American flag. I was very honored to ride alongside the drill team and carry the flag! I worked the arena all night long and would help Rod the pick up man chase back and clear the pen! It was a blast getting to ride several different horses that weekend. Not only did I get to ride a few of the Hampton Rodeo Companies horses but I also rode a few of Rod’s horses as well! During both nights of the rodeo I was able to work the arena along with Rod, I always enjoy working with him and getting to ride some new horses!
As things had come to a close for the Pawnee rodeo the excitement had just started! As I was riding through the arena that first night a strange man had hollered at me from outside of the arena, “Hey Heather, how’s it going?” I had no idea who he was and just replied with a quick and short answer. I had asked everyone there who he was and how he knew my name. My first thought was someone had put him up to it and was giving me a hard time. When the rodeo was over I was on my way out of the arena when this same man walked up to me and the horse and said, “You don’t recognize me do you?” Of course I did not recognize him, turns out he went to school with me all the way back in Iowa and was in the same grade as my sister. We used to show cattle together! What a small world as soon as I realized it was Kale I knew who he was! I just had to mention it because at the time it was a really funny story!
Blue Ridge, oh Blue Ridge, Georgia! What an experience that was! The first day there Justin Hedrick and I spent the entire day going to schools and visiting kids as well as going to sponsor visits! Justin made the perfect clown for his first time ever being a step in rodeo clown! He even let me help with his rodeo clown makeup. I made sure to tell him to powder it that it would be a long day and it would not last all day. He didn’t believe me at first but he soon made his way over to the stock trailer and pulled some baby powder out of the flank bag and threw some on his face. I had never laughed so hard in my life because he hit himself in the face while he did it! Once we got to the schools we had a blast with the kids and interacting with them about the rodeo! Justin had what he called a “woo ball” every time the ball was in the air the kids could scream and make as much noise as they wanted to but once it was back in his hand they had to be silent. The kids loved it!
The following morning, Friday morning Kevin the president of the rodeo committee and I got up bright and early and did a radio interview, once that was over we drove across town and did a TV interview. We then headed out to the rodeo grounds where we would put on a morning rodeo for the special needs kids! That was an absolute blast! I opened up the performance carrying the American flag! Once I was done with that I would get to run barrels on the pick up horse and then I was somehow talked into doing a cartwheel. When Heath the Dancing Cajun rodeo clown had talked all of the kids into asking me to do one I could just not turn them down. So I did it and I did not lose my hat!! Both nights of the rodeo went off with a bang! It was a blast and we had some great contestants and the crowds both nights were amazing! I had an absolute blast at the rodeo and meeting everyone there!
As I close out this blog please know that there are so many exciting things coming in the future! I am heading to some rodeos that have never had a Miss Rodeo USA before and traveling to some states that I never expected to go to all year! Of course Canada is coming up as well! Stay tuned and follow my year as Black Betty the mobile home and I are still seeing lots of miles!
After spending some time in the Oklahoma area it was time for me to head out of Oklahoma, but just for a short time! I left Oklahoma and made my second stop in Arkansas this year! It’s crazy because it was like I had been there before. Well, I sure had been, I spent a weekend in Huntsville back in May when I went out there for the memorial rodeo! Of course getting to Arkansas was not going to be as easy as I had planned! I spent a day or two in Lawton on the military base with my sister who I had not seen in a long time! While leaving the base I was involved in a car accident! No worries though everyone involved was ok and no one was hurt, just black betty the mobile home! Betty was still drivable, just a little rough around the edges and did not drive as straight as she once did! The police officer was very nice as well, while writing up the accident report he informed me that I needed to put down a job, well of course I stated that my “job” was Miss Rodeo USA because it is! He smirked, he then came down to the part where he was to write me a citation for the accident, he asked if I had proof of who I was, meaning Miss Rodeo USA. I pulled out my crown and my buckle to prove myself, he also asked what my schedule was going to be like for the next several weeks. After going through the long list of rodeos and states that I would be in and out of he laughed and said, “Just as I thought, there’s no way you'll make it to court on that day, looks like I’ll just have to let you off with a verbal warning!” I had always been told that sometimes the crown can get you out of a sticky situation, never did I think I was going to have to use it!
I made the trip to Huntsville, after my long and very stressful day I had finally made it safe and sound! I pulled into the rodeo grounds and immediately recognized the area! I loved going to the Sky High Arena, it was basically on top of a mountain. Really, it was though, I remember thinking about how lucky I was to not have to haul a trailer all the way up those windy, curvy, and very steep hills! The committee welcomed me with open arms and had me settled into my host home in no time! The following day we had sponsor visits and radio interviews, a little bit of everywhere we went it seemed like! I loved that we started off every morning with coffee and good food! I traveled all across the county with a couple of really awesome gals that I had a ton of fun with and were so cool! I met a man by the name of AT Smith, he would sit there and tell me stories of the days when he grew up. AT talked about his wife who he had loved for years and how they never had children but they were so involved with the community and how he had given back time and time again! I really enjoyed that ma and everything he had to say!
We kicked off both nights of the rodeo where I was blessed to ride one of Hampton Rodeo Company’s horses and was able to carry the American flag! I would get to lead the grand entry and help out in the arena through out the night chasing back cattle and helping in anyway that I could! That was really my first time getting to work for the Hampton’s, it was an absolute blast! The entire family was so kind to me and very helpful! Anytime that I had a question they never hesitated to answer and help out!
I was able to stay in Huntsville with my host home, who I had a blast with as well! The next stop on my journey was to Sallisaw, Oklahoma and it was just right down the road so they allowed me to stay and hang out! They took me water skiing and showed me around the farm! They were a blast and I really enjoyed getting to know them! Once I left Sallisaw bound I was! Thankfully I made it in one piece and it was one of the shortest drives I had been on all year! I pulled into the arena that night and met the committee chairman Mr. Marley! He was so nice, he gave me the to do list and informed me of all of the duties for the week! After showing me around the arena I checked into my hotel! The hotel I stayed at, well lets just say that it has trumped every hotel I have ever stayed in!! When they found out I was staying they made me homemade biscuits and gravy and not to mention they always checked on me! Really, spent a lot of me free time at the hotel in their lobby hanging out with them! Some of the most kind hearted people I have ever met! They will forever be apart of my rodeo family!
Well poor Black Betty the mobile home had herself another run in, literally. As I was leaving Charlie’s Chicken, which was one of the sponsor visits I went to that day she got hit. Someone had backed into me and Black Betty now has another big eye sore to add to her list. Woops! I then had to leave her at the hotel and the dealership in town who sponsored the rodeo was so kind and let me use a Jeep to get around town for the rest of the weekend! I was more than thankful for them! As it came time for the rodeo Matt McGee the announcer and I planned out the nightly events and had everything lined up! Sean, the pick up man brought me one of his trusty horses, Bob! He rode really well and was awesome to all weekend!
As the weekend came to an end I tried to remember all of the positives, which really means I tried not to stress about my two car accidents in one week. Again, Woops! Everything works out and everything happens for a reason! I had a blast both in Arkansas and in Oklahoma! I was not only around some amazing people but I got to do what I love! As I leave you with this update on my journey don’t forget to remember to look at the big picture, to enjoy every moment in life and to remember to be thankful and count your blessings!
Things sure have been crazy since I last dropped in and told you all about my adventures. The past several weeks have been so busy and there have been so many miles put on old black betty the mobile home! You already heard how I left Shawnee bright and early Thursday morning and drove all day just to make it in time for the rodeo in Columbia, Tennessee. Well good news, I made it even in plenty of time for the rodeo to start. I pulled in to see some of my favorite rodeo family, I always enjoy working with the Oubre Rodeo Company! We kicked off that Friday morning with a radio interview. That radio broadcasting room was by far the fullest I had ever seen one in my life. Bubba Oubre the stock contractor, Alan Morehead the rodeo announcer, the sheriff and a few of his fellow officers, and myself filled the walls of the radio station, not to mention the radio guys themselves, now that was a full house! We all had a last talking about the rodeo and of course giving each other a hard time. After the radio show we headed down to a local diner and had breakfast. I promise you as Miss Rodeo USA, you will literally never starve! Everywhere you go they manage to feed you well, and a lot of it if you choose to eat that much!
We kicked off the rodeo that Friday night and for some reason I always get roped into helping out with the entertainment during the rodeo. This time ropes were no joke as I was asked to help Rider Kisner with his acts. The first act of the night was a little life fearing as he cracked whips around my head and body. I would hold a rose out of my mouth and he would crack it in half from a distance with a whip.He then proceeded to blind fold himself and would crack whips around me. To say that I was slightly nervous was an understatement! The second act that I helped with was much less dangerous on my end and I was thankful for that! I would lead the trusty pick up horse into the arena and park him where Rider could easily get to! I would stand holding the horse and ride would make a large community loop that would swing around the horse and myself, all while Rider would stand on the back of the horse! It was by far one of the coolest things I have ever seen!
Even though Columbia, Tennessee had come to and end I was sad but I knew I was headed somewhere where I would be seeing some familiar faces, and for that I was thrilled! Off to Ada, Oklahoma I went! It was a pretty long drive and I felt as though black betty the mobile home was really starting to get mad with all of her hard earned miles but we made it! I reached Ada and was welcomed with open arms! Some of my favorite rodeo family was there where they were hosting the Ken Lance Memorial Rodeo queen pageant! I was honored to get to be apart of it as I would get to mcee some of the pageant. While there I ran into DJ and Trisha Shields as they were two of the judges for the pageant, oh and of course not to mention Georgianne Abo Gillman was there as a judge too! Talk about having a blast! That Thursday night before the rodeo started we were able to work the arena and get some riding time in.! By far one of the best times I had as I got to ride one of the girls new head horses! Man oh man do I miss getting on a nice rope horse, flying out of the box and chasing down a calf! The only thing I was missing, was my rope!
The rodeo itself was awesome, and the host family that I stayed with was even more awesome! Her name never really stuck with me, she reminded me so much of my late grandmother that I just called her Granny all weekend and the name stuck! My sister even came to the rodeo to visit me! Having my sister come to my rodeo meant the world to me since I almost never get to see her and since we started rodeoing together it was really bittersweet! During the rodeo, I spent a lot of time riding in the arena and working the stock! During my time in the arena I was able to share it with a gal named Kade, she came all the way from South Dakota to the rodeo! Kade is one of the Indian queens from the north and we had a blast together! I could not get enough of her northern accent! Now I understand why people always tell me I have an accent and laugh when I talk to them!
Another rodeo had come and gone, and now here we are thinking about how my year as Miss Rodeo USA is over half way complete! This hit me the other day and I didn’t realize how disappointing it would be to think that it will be over soon. But I will say, I am living my year to the fullest and I am going everywhere that I can and to me that’s the only way to do it! In the end I will have no regrets! Well I am off to the next one folks! I sure hope you enjoyed this blog and stay tuned to hear about my current adventures!
As I drove to Memphis, Tennessee I wondered what it would be like. Memphis is such a big town and known all over the US, I have never really been to a town that big so of course I was a little nervous! As I pulled into town that morning I immediately seen familiar faces, which is always so nice to see! We all piled into several trucks and made our way to our first stop of the Memphis rodeo, the St. Judes Hospital. I tend to get very uneasy about going to hospitals. First of all they always smell funny, second of all, every time I have ever been to one it’s not for a good reason, and lastestly because it breaks my heart to see people having to go through pain or any misfortune. Once we all reached the hospital we were given “the tour.” This tour consisted of finding out about how the hospital came about and how every child is being taken care of and that no one is ever left behind for any reason. We learned about how they would fly in patients from other countries or even across the US to come and get the proper treatment! While at the hospital Colt 45, the rodeo clown had ran into a family that was being treated there, the family is from his hometown and the little girl is basically a hero in their town! We all stopped and talked to the family and really enjoyed how her face would light up when all of the cowboys and cowgirls would hug her or high five her! Before the tour was over we ran into another young man who everyone called, “The Bossman.” He was so sweet and we had been told that he received treatment that day and was feeling a little under the weather but he was not shy at all when it came to getting a picture taken with us! The children made the entire experience worth every second of being there!
During the rodeo I was able to ride two different horses! I started off the night on the pick man, Tom’s horse Geranimo, I then switched and rode a horse named Arnold. Arnold was a very pretty blue roan that was very good at his job! I was able to help in the arena throughout the night and I also had some great help. Dallas who is the son of Jim, the stock contractor came in and helped me chase back both nights of the rodeo! Dallas and I had a great time working the arena and getting to ride some awesome horses!
When the rodeo was over Saturday night in Memphis I had to pack up and head straight down to Shawnee, Oklahoma for the IFYR 27! I was very excited to get there and to be apart of the IFYR. I had heard so many cool things about the event and I could not wait to experience it myself! The drive was about eight hours long, so plenty long for an all night drive! Once in the car and headed down the road I was of course tired but I stuck it out and was able to make it just in time that morning to catch a quick nap and get ready for the first of eleven performances that week!
The first performance was that Sunday evening! Once getting to the arena I met the family who would be there helping me out and taking care of me! They were all so kind! We took off in the golf cart to find a horse for me to use during the rodeo week! By the way Shawnee and the IFYR are golf cart central, I think everyone there owns one and if they don’t they will soon! Either way on our way to locate a horse we found the wonderful Steve Ratchford who was so kind and offered up his horse Scamper for me to use as my fly by horse! I hopped on and rode him around to get a feel for him! I felt as though I was buying a horse and had several to choose from as there were a couple of other people there too who had offered for me to use their horses as well. After the test ride on Scamper we decided he would be perfect for the job! As I took my new trusty horse over to the gate to enter everything was going perfect! I had just been lined up for my first fly by during the IFYR, across the three arenas I went, but not to fast. As Scamper and I entered the arena he had a different idea of fun. Scamper crow hopped across the first arena and into the second arena and before reaching the third we had each other figured out! At the end of the run I passed him off to Steve and laughed with him about how his horse was now warmed up and ready to flag all night! I rode Scamper the rest of the week while I was there and we never had another issue! Scamper was a great horse and lots of fun to ride. Not to mention I had several people laugh about it and tell me how high they scored my ride!
Shawnee was a blast and I hate that I was not able to stay for the entire event but I of course was booked and off to another rodeo! Columbia, Tennessee was my next stop and I left bright and early Thursday morning to be sure to make it in plenty of time!! Well I have to run now as there are many things to do still and this girl could actually use some shut eye! Stay tuned and continue to follow my journey on the road this year! I can’t believe it's half over already! I hope all is well wherever you are and I pray that all of you are enjoying the nice weather we have been having this summer!
Blairsville Georgia was my next stop! I enjoyed getting to see the town as I was informed by some of the locals that we were in the mountains! They really were not kidding as I drove through the town and around the area I noticed that I seemed to take a lot of windy roads and there were plenty of “hills” as I would call them! I pulled in that Thursday night for the saddle club meeting and was able to meet all of the people who had spent countless hours preparing for this event! Everyone was so nice and welcoming! The arena was covered and alongside one of those “hills.” It was a beautiful setting and the arena ground was so nice!
Night number one of the Blairsville Pro Rodeo rolled around and I was thrilled to see the Hedrick family there when I pulled in! It is always so nice to see stock contractors that you know and love so much! I was fortunate enough to use Bullseye, who is Stacey the pick up man’s horse! Bullseye had been there and done that! He was perfectly behaved and we enjoyed the opening ceremonies as we carried the colors of our country and carried sponsor flags throughout the night! The rodeo went smoothly and I had a blast with the crew! At the end of the rodeo we signed autographs for the young fans! I love getting to see all of the smiles and the kids of course!
Night number two of the Blairsville Pro Rodeo started off about the same, except Mark Northall had informed me that I did the introduction WRONG the first night! Woops!! I made a lap and a half around the arena and I was supposed to make two laps. I informed them that I was going to need hand signals, for some reason counting and riding a horse can be a little difficult apparently. So as I prepared to go in with the American flag Danny Hedrick was sure to be there for the hand signals. As I made my first lap Danny leaned over the bucking chutes with one finger in the air and yelled “that’s one lap.” Laughing out loud I made my way around for lap number two. As I turned the corner I was sure to see Danny lean over the bucking chutes one more time holding up two fingers saying, “that’s two laps!” I laughed the entire time I was in the arena! As the night went on everything went just as planned and perfectly until, I went to carry the flag for the Bareback riding event. I took off with my horse and cowboy Tanner Phipps following for his victory lap thought it would be funny to lap the rodeo queen. I guess he was wanting to race. We all got a good laugh about it and I was sure to inform him that he did the victory lap incorrectly! Maybe next time he will get it right!
South Bend, Indiana was a long drive! I left Alabama VERY early that morning for the ten hour drive! As I drove through Indiana I was so thrilled to see shoulders on the side of the road, no trees on the side of the road, corn and bean fields as far as I could see, and two story farm houses! I laughed to myself as I thought of how different things were in the south compared to the Midwest. I had really missed the rich agriculture of the Midwest! While looking at the map of where I was headed I realized that Indiana is a very vertically LONG state. I literally went from the bottom of the state all the way to the top, almost to Michigan! Once I reached my destination I was jumping up and down to see that I was about to attend my first fair rodeo! The local county fair was going on during the same time as the rodeo at the same place! That meant that I got to see all of the livestock that I wanted and I would not be judged for getting googly eyes over some very attractive angus cattle! Ha Ha! The rodeo started off that night with a tribute to the military and we had an awesome crowd! I rode Kevin McElroy, the stock contractors horse, Rony Pony. They said the real name was Shadow but no one would call him that! We carried the American flag and helped chase back cattle and work the arena through out the night! Night number one of the fair rodeo was a success! We then made our way to the fair where I of course ate the not so good for me but super tasty fair food. That may have included fried pickles and Oreos. I just could not help myself! After the fair I went and got some much needed sleep as I had been u very early to make it to the rodeo in time!
The second night of the rodeo was just as amazing as the first night but I got to do things a little differently! I carried our colors again and then handed the horse off the Jim’s granddaughter who would be helping chase back. Braden Tate the rodeo clown had talked me into helping with both of his clown acts for the night. At number one consisted of an obstacle course where I competed against Jaylie and Taycie Matthews! I just knew for sure they were going to beat me. We raced through the course and it was very competitive, we all had a blast as laughed a lot! After the obstacle course I was going to get to drive Braden’s car. This car is a two seated metro with a steering wheel in the trunk. I sat in the trunk of the car with a steering wheel, brake, and what looked like a lawn mower throttle. Driving through the arena in the trunk of the car I prayed that I would not run anyone over as I could not see a thing! I made it through the act and everyone got a good laugh at the dog “who drove the car.”
Well as much as I would love to go on and on about how much fun I have been having I am on to the next one! Stay tuned to see where I go next and what adventure awaits me there! I hope you all have a blessed day!
After the beach I went on to Shady Dale, Georgia which I was so excited for as I was going to get to work with Southern Rodeo Company and Dusty Meyers. I have heard so many wonderful things about both of these people and I could not wait to work with them! A big thank you to Robin Brooks for always checking on me throughout the weekend to make sure I was always ready and good to go! Another thank you to Robin’s son Josh for putting me on a good horse and also checking in to make sure everything was gonna be just fine and of course to his wife Dawn for always making sure I was taken care of! Well, it rained and it poured like I had never seen before. Have you ever seen Forest Gump where it rained sideways and upward and all around? Well that scene pretty much describes the rain in Shady Dale! I was a little bit afraid to see what the arena was going to be like, but to my surprise it was great! We are so thankful for God’s creations and the sand that he has given the world! The arena was full of sand and the groundskeepers did an awesome job at keeping things just right to put on the best rodeo! I seen water sweep in and make rivers through the ground in a matter of minutes. Robin told all of us that, that weekend was going to separate us from the rest and we were going to cowboy up! I really took what he said to heart and thought, he sure is right! It made me think of my family farm back home and how when my father or grandfather have something going on at the farm that can not wait they don’t. No matter the weather if there is a down calf or a momma cow that needs an extra hand they will withstand the weather no matter how bad. This past winter in Iowa it was brutal, negative forties and thirties at times and snow past your knees. My family stuck through it all and made it happen. They did just as Robin talked about and they would cowboy up! Thank you Robin for reminding me of home and for being my rodeo family that weekend! Your a true inspiration to me and I can’t wait to work with you again!
After leaving Shady Dale I got to go “home,” well my home here in Bama! I spent the week with the Terry family as I helped them prepare for their hometown rodeo. Now when I say hometown rodeo we all have one of those right? Well this one was awesome, I literally walked out the front door of the house and there I was, Rodeo Galore! I was right there at the rodeo grounds and ready to go! We spent some time at the LouAllen farms where I met several people and had the chance to talk about the rodeo and farming! My two favorite things! We also went over to the Co-op and met even more people and I passed out tickets and hoped to see many people there. Saturday morning we got up really early and went to a Veterans run, then over to a Veterans ceremony. My heart was so full as I thought of my sister and her being away from home as she is in the US Army. My heart was full and my eyes wanted to fill with tears as we placed metals on each Veteran that stood in front of us as we honored their service! I had never in my life seen something so moving!
That night I went on to the rodeo where I had a blast and was reunited with the Bubba Oubre crew! I always have a blast with them! Kevin of course put me on my favorite grey horse John! Oh and before I forget, I got to do something that was so cool! Mr. Jerry Thornton was the specialty act that weekend with his world famous Andalusian White Stallion, Nervioso. Jerry let me try my hand at his tricks before the rodeo! By the way, I can’t ever say that was a lie as Jerry was sure to get pictures for the proof! I can’t thank Jerry enough for allowing me that experience! I have really had the best experiences and am so blessed to walk in the boots that I do! Before I leave you all as I hate to but I have so much to do before I leave for my next big journey, I wanted to leave you with another quote that I felt was very fitting for my life right now!
My life right now as crazy as it is, “is like a bull in a china cabinet,” this is by Kristi Coggins of Blythewood, SC! Thank you for the good laugh Kristi, you and Buck always had something fun to say or do!
Last minute I was talking to my dear friend Tisha Ross from Arkansas. I was not at the time booked for Memorial Day Weekend. Of course Tisha had other plans after talking to her for a little while which was just fine with me! Tisha has a dear friend who had lost their son in an accident a year ago and they were putting on a rodeo in his memory that weekend. She asked if I would like to be apart of the rodeo. My first thought was ABSOLUTELY! First of all I love rodeo, and about a year ago our rodeo family back home had just been through the exact same experience so I knew that I wanted to be apart of this. As I write this I get the chills and goosebumps as I know there are two cowboys up in heaven watching over us as we ride every weekend nd honor their dreams! After agreeing to be at the First ever Rodeo for Tyler, Tisha booked me a flight to Dallas where I would meet up with her and we would fly into Fort Smith together. My first time ever on a plane was very entertaining! Security was by far the worst part of the entire experience! Once I was on the plane things were just fine! The way home was the best plane ride, they had a TV on the back of the seat so I was able to watch a movie on the way home! I was in shock, but then again I was not as technology has come along way!
Once I got to Arkansas we headed out to see the sights and then we went on to the rodeo. I met some of the most amazing people and they were all so down to earth and kind! I was honored as I was asked to judge the rodeo queen pageant there at the rodeo! There were a total of nine girls in three different age groups! Wow, that was phenomenal to see that many girls come out and want to be successful in life and in the arena! I was so proud to be apart of their journey! The first night of the rodeo was a huge success and there were so many people who came out to support the Rodeo for Tyler! The second day of the rodeo was also a huge success as it was a youth rodeo. I loved getting to see all of the kids coming out to try their hand in the rodeo arena. Our future in the rodeo industry sure is bright! After the rodeo Tisha and Jody took me to the water where we got to do a little water rafting! The water was warm and beautiful, I have never seen water move like that before! We took the kayak out and of course Jody and I had a little race. I was winning until I got caught in a current and flipped mine over! Tisha and Jody had a good laugh and well, I guess I did too! It was one of the best experiences of my year!
South Carolina, was not at all what I expected. It was better! I laugh as I am always on guard as I travel across the US in my car where it seems like I live. Which I do most of the time when I am not going from one hotel to the other! Anyways back to South Carolina, it was beautiful and although I was caught in some crazy traffic vodo I still managed to make it to dinner with Buck and Kristi Coggins. Buck and Kristi are the rodeo committee members for the Blythewood rodeo. I was soon informed that the E was silent in Blythewood, I guess that's why I usually get called a Yankee! I pronounce everything down here in the south wrong it seems like! Pulling in on a Tuesday night means getting to promote the rodeo all week long and getting to know the people your around even better! This is my favorite part! I learned a lot about Buck and Kristi and their beautiful and successful family! Krisiti’s best friend Miss Chris even came to town all the way from Texas to help with the rodeo! Another group of people showed up as well that I really got to know Mr. Don, Mr. Rob and his beautiful wife Megan and there very fun and active son Lucas who is only five! I grew to love all of these people in just a week! Can you imagine if I lived there full time how much fun life would be and how blessed I would be!
We got everyone geared up for the rodeo Thursday night as we kicked off with the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce Cow Patty Bingo. I, well I was a judge, here I am in the middle of the rodeo arena with an audience and four cows as I waited for them all to do their duty. I can say that was a first for me! Friday night was the first night of the rodeo and although the dust flew and you couldn’t really see anyone behind you in grand entry that night it was a blast! I was honored to carry the colors of our country alongside the flag girls of Treadway Rodeo Company! Miss Pam of Treadway made sure that I did everything correctly and was so helpful! When the Saturday performance came along the grounds were even better and the rodeo was still amazing! I had the best time at the rodeo that weekend! I also got to do my first ever queens runs as Miss Rodeo USA 2019 which was an absolute blast! I can’t thank Buck and Kristi enough for all that they have done for me and for becoming apart of my rodeo family!
My next stop was the beach! That’s right I went to the beach and got to see the Ocean. I know I have seen it in Brunswick but this was in a whole different way! Miss Megan and her son Lucas graciously took me around the sights of Charleston where I got to be a tourist for a couple of days before my next big rodeo! There was nothing better than some girl time on the beach and getting to see my first ever dolphin! Also it was just insane to me to look out over Folly Beach and not see land on the other side. It’s a feeling I can not explain!
Don’t forget to stay tuned to hear all about my next adventures! I have some really fun and exciting things coming up in the next several weeks! I may have been spending a lot of time on the water here recently but I am about to be spending even more time in the arena dirt!
Miss Rodeo USA 2019