Saturday, May 16, 2009

Special Olympics, Darryl Worley Concert, Missoula Horse Expo

Equine Expo Kiddie Rodeo
Smoke Elser, Packing Extraordinaire, and one of his mules

My mom and I

Some of our dedicated men of service

Talking to our troops

Darryl Worley and I after I whacked him on the head

The equestrian athletes at Special Olympics

Giving out Gymnastics medals at Special Olympics

On Wednesday I headed to Bozeman for the state Special Olympics. Left my coat at home.... oops. Apparently I forgot it is still winter in Montana in May. It was cold, but this kind police officer in the photos above gave me his wind breaker. I handed out medals for the softball throw event. That evening I went to the opening ceremonies for the games, which is quite the show. They bring in the torch and have all of the athletes parade in. It was a really neat production. The second day I spent at the equestrian competition. There were some great riders and everyone had a lot of fun. I believe in the value of therapeutic riding- both mentally and physically. Through horses people find Independence, and can move freely and quickly. I love to see people liberated through horses and I saw a lot of that on Thursday. There was a wide array of activities to try- including trail class, barrel racing, and pole bending. The horses were so wonderful and really are caretakers. The final day in Bozeman was spent handing out medals. Everyone was a winner, and so excited to receive their medals. I felt so grateful to be apart of this event. I met some inspirational, positive, happy people who really appreciate friendship and the little things in life. It reminds me to keep enjoying this year and all of the little things that make it great! I can't believe I have already been Miss Rodeo Montana for four months. It is going by so fast! I am having the time of my life. I would like to thank Dave Snuggs for having me come to Special Olympics and Jody for setting up so many awesome opportunities for me.
Friday was a night I had anticipated a lot. It was military appreciation night and Darryl Worley was playing at the brand new Last Chance Stampede Fairgrounds. I am a huge fan of him. He dedicates a lot of his time to entertaining troops and supporting our soldiers with his concerts. But the biggest reason I was excited for the night was because I was the speaker for the event. I gave a speech in front of over 1000 people- my biggest audience yet. To go from being a girl who was terrified of speaking in public to this was a huge accomplishment for me. The last four years have been an unbelievable transition and I have the Miss Rodeo Montana program to thank for that.
I was excited to meet Darryl, and from the pictures above, you can see he had a bandage on his head. Apparently at Miles City Bucking Horse Sale on Thursday night, a windstorm picked up a plastic lid and sent it flying right into Darryl's head while he was singing. It knocked him over and he had to go to the ER. After 7 stitches, he was back singing to all of those Cowboy Mardi Gras- Goers.
I'm not going to lie. I was nervous. As I looked out into a sea of people, I felt pretty insecure. I had written my speech about patriotism, appreciation of our military, and freedom. I memorized it also- which can either be great, or terrible. You run a risk because if you forget it, it is difficult to pick up and go extemporaneous. But then I had to calm myself down and believe that I could do it. If you think about it, there is really no difference between speaking in front of 10 people, or 10,000. I kept telling myself that as the clock ticked closer to my speech. I always try to become tranquil before I go on stage for speeches and it seems to work well. If you can find peace within yourself before a high pressure situation, you are on the path to success. I thought about how much I believed in what I was saying, how I was so grateful to have the freedom to pursue my dreams and serve as Miss Rodeo Montana, and how excited I was that they picked me to speak- even over the governor......sorry Mr. Schweitzer:)!!! I said a little prayer and then stepped onto the stage. Well, God came through because I didn't forget! The speech went really well and the audience was very attentive. I crossed a huge milestone on Friday with that speech, and I know that built up my confidence a lot. I am convinced that when I got to Miss Rodeo America, I will be very prepared with my speech. After I stepped off stage, I was on cloud nine. One of the security men told me he enjoyed it a lot. Then a woman came up to me and told me that her husband was overseas and she really appreciated what I said. Talk about bring a tear to your eye. I had a number of people come up to me and thank me and I felt so happy that I could bring a message to people about how grateful we should be to live in this country. Wow, what an amazing experience. I would like to thank Amy Robbins (the Last Chance Stampede event planner and a past Miss Rodeo Montana judge) and Liann Meyers for inviting me to come to the concert and speak.
After the concert, I stopped by the Gurnett's house and Mike made me some dinner. They are the nicest people! They have invited me to share their home with them whenever I am in Helena. Thank you so much to the Gurnetts! You are my family away from home! I then made the trek over to Missoula.
The next morning, I went to the Missoula Equestrian Park for the Horse Expo. It was an event with many educational booths and vendors. I was at the kid's tent and I set up my kiddie rodeo equipment to show all of the kids what rodeo is all about. I was excited to work with a man I have known since I was 12 years old- packing legend Smoke Elser. If there is one name synonymous with packing, it is Smoke. He has been outfitting, educating, and writing books about packing into the back country a long time. My dad and I took his packing class ten years ago and went on a trip with him into the Scapegoat. To see him on Saturday was fun. I helped with a packing demonstration in the arena. I did a basket hitch on a mule. I was a little rusty, but Smoke helped me through it. To work with such a great mentor in my life was great. Thank you to Smoke, Jenna, and Mark Wright who included me in their expo. The day was fun and informative for all who came. I have the next two weeks off to prep for summer. I am so ecstatic for rodeo season!!! I will be working these next weeks on Miss Rodeo America studying and getting ready for my summer. I can't wait to see all of you down the road!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Helena Middle School Visit

Goat-tying 101
Some of the awesome 6th Graders!

Demonstrating tie-down roping. I think this is the calf being flanked.

Whoops-there were so many kids I ran out of autograph sheets. Lesson learned. That won't happen again! I worked well with what I had... notebook paper.

My traveling partner, Gus. Yes Reagan- he is ugly :) but in a cute way!

On Friday I helped with a huge rodeo clinic at Helena Middle School. These kids were attentive, enthusiastic, and a lot of fun to work with. I had the opportunity to give a speech, so I talked about what I was like in 6th grade (a dorky animal lover), how I got into rodeo queening, what all Miss Rodeo Montana does, and how to overcome obstacles in life with a positive attitude. The kids were receptive and excited. I started off my speech by saying I heard a rumor that Miss Rodeo Montana had to ride a bull the last few years and I was scared! Audrey had some funny stories! The rumor was true. They gloved me up and threw me on the bucking barrel. Talk about embarrassing. I swear people take a lot of joy in seeing rodeo queens fall off sometimes. These kids were entertained. I think I fell off so fast because I was trying to spur. Now I know why bull riders clamp on for dear life. I tried again and rode that barrel to a standstill.
The kids had a lot of stations that included getting on a bareback rigging, bronc saddle, trying their hands at tie-down roping, goat tying(which I found out they already do in gym class), pole bending, team roping, etc. Janet Erickson does an awesome job setting this event up and I found out I was the 8th Miss Rodeo Montana to do the visit. That is really neat to have a tradition like this school visit. I would encourage everyone to turn their prayers to Janet as she has been sick and couldn't make it to the rodeo day at the school. I would like to thank Helena Middle School and Janet Erickson for inviting me to join them on a fun day for the kids. I had a great time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seatbelt Commercial~ Mayfaire~ Autumn Dunbar Roughstock Rodeo

There was mud EVERYWHERE, including my camera lens :) Unfortunately Chance Smith had to be back in the pens! Ha Ha!
Between sections, I rounded up all of the little cowboys and cowgirls who wanted to try their hands at some fun events!

It was great to have Virgil there to help- my hands were definitely full!

Autumn and I before grand entry

Autumn and I stop our hard work for a pic!

I had a busy weekend in the Great Falls area. On Friday, I shot a commercial with KRTV promoting young men wearing seatbelts. It should be really good- a little corny, but cute! They had me crack the bullwhip, so be prepared! My favorite line was "So all you guys out there- Go For the Buckle! Or I'll get crackin'!" It is funny. It's amazing how many takes you have to do to have a very short commercial. I'm excited to see how it will turn out.
On Saturday night I went to Mayfaire, which was a dinner, dance, and auction for Benefis Heart Facility. The food was the best I have ever had- and we even had baked Alaska for dessert. They auctioned off a horseback riding package for four girls and I at Bull Run Ranch. That should be a blast. I also got to see the Commodores in concert and they wear more bling than rodeo queens! They had tight black jumpsuits covered in crystals! In case there are a few of you out there who are unfamiliar with the 70's band, they sang Brick House.
Sunday was Autumn Dunbar's Benefit Rodeo. There was a huge turnout and I am so happy that Autumn had so many people attending. It was truly a family event and JS Rodeo and Andrea did a great job making sure all of the kids were included. I helped put on stick horse barrel racing in the arena, the ribbon race, and a chicken catching race. We turned a very cantankerous rooster loose in the arena and all of the kids had to try to catch it. This one ended up not going over as planned because the roosters wings weren't clipped. I have never seen a pack of kids move so fast though! We definitely wore out all of the children and watched a great rodeo. I was so happy to be apart of Autumn's rodeo.