Every year rodeo queens from all over the country travel to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the International Pro Rodeo Association Convention for a chance to be the next Miss Rodeo USA.
Kaitlyne Davis, graduate student from Kevil, Ky., competed to be the 50th winner of Miss Rodeo USA Pageant last week and placed third runner-up, but won the horsemanship award.
Davis became involved with the competition after being named Miss MSU Rodeo 2012.
The pageant coordinator, Kimberly Bellah, had competed for the title in the past and brought it to Davis’ attention.
“I was honored to have been awarded the horsemanship award,” Davis said. “Horsemanship entails your ability to ride and perform a pattern on a horse that you have never ridden before. There is no warm up or time to get to know one another. You tighten the saddle, adjust the stirrups and in the arena you go.”
Davis said as a rodeo queen she is often riding horses in parades and grand entries she has never been on before, so horsemanship is important.
“The horsemanship portion is to test your ability to adapt to that and your ability to ride,” Davis said.
There are several factors that go into the judge’s decision for who will take home the title. Each contestant is put through a rigorous judging schedule, where they are judged on appearance, personality and horsemanship.
Every competitor is also judged on style shows, speeches, written examinations and interviews.
To ease tension, events such as luncheons, dinners and media interviews are planned throughout the week for contestants to have some fun.
“Having one of our students compete at the national level is a testament to what kind of students we have here at Murray State,” rodeo coach J.D. Vanhooser said. “It lets people from across the country know who Murray is.”
Murray State is one of 13 colleges and universities in the Ozark Region of the National Intercollege Rodeo Association which consists of all the schools east of the Mississippi River.
The mission of men’s and women’s rodeo teams at Murray State is to provide the opportunity for students to earn a college degree while pursing the sport of college rodeo.
Teams compete in multiple events such as goat tying, team roping and bull riding. Individuals can compete in more than one event.
Davis started barrel racing at 9 years old and began her rodeo career in high school.
She has been a member of the Murray State rodeo team for three years and competes in barrel racing and breakaway roping.
“I plan on sharing my experience with other young women that want the opportunity to promote the greatest sport on dirt,” Davis said.
This is Davis’ last year of eligibility with the Murray State rodeo team. She is currently working toward her master’s degree and plans to continue her rodeo career after she graduates.
“I want to thank the Murray State community for their support,” Davis said. “There were so many members from the community showing their support and I am very grateful for that.”
Story by Rebecca Walter, Contributing writer.