Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Fun in Iowa!

New horse! Please visit the link below and enjoy more pictures of the little bay and my travels in Iowa!

What an experience!

Saturday, April 7 I spent the day at Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines. My family and I have participated on the fundraiser ride to Des Moines and dances throughout the year, however, my time at the camp with the kids has been one of the most rewarding things I have done with the organization. Throughout the day we kept busy with many different activities, including coloring, painting Easter eggs, playing games, and taking a covered wagon ride from the John Deere plant in Ankeny back to camp!

During the wagon ride, pulled by a very beautiful draft team, we sang songs and chatted about horses. The campers were so fun, and by the end of the day I felt as if I had known them forever because we were poking fun back and forth at each other! I went in with an open mind and open heart, ready to give sympathy to the children who attend the camp for the challenges and adversity they have overcome. However, I left with a new outlook on the lives of the people who attend the camp, and 10 new wonderful friends!

The lovable individuals I spent the day with at Camp Sunnyside showed me something that became a turning point in my life. These kids are not looking for our sympathy, they do not want to be treated any differently, and do not want us to make exceptions for them--all they want is to laugh, smile, love, and live just as we do. They are unique, talented, and bright individuals with caring hearts who just have to deal with a body that does not work as well as ours sometimes. Thank you, campers, for your friendship and life lessons.

Saturday evening I attended the Pony Express Victory Dance in Des Moines and got a brief chance to speak to the attendees about my experience at camp with the kids. I had a wonderful time, and I appreciated the opportunity to share my memories. I also had a great time dancing the night away because I LOVE TO DANCE!

The next day I traveled to Greenfield, Iowa and picked up some new cargo in the nice Sunshine "S" Featherlite Trailer I get to use for the year. The 14.1 hand little bay I have now has an outstanding pedigree and rides like a push-button horse. I am still getting used to the whole size issue, but I think I will grow to like the little bay when we get to know one another better. I haven't yet decided what to call him, but he answers to many names, including the ones I have been using lately: Doc, Duke, Tiny, Junior, Shorty, Little Horse, Slick . . . I am sure one will fit sometime soon!

Thank you, Jack Day, for helping me find this horse! Jack has done so much for me over the past year helping me get my big sorrel horse ready for the Miss Rodeo Iowa Pageant, as well as how to be a better horseman (or "woman," I guess). In my opinion, Jack is one of the best horsemen I know--just as good, if not better than Clinton Anderson, Cleve Wells, Richard Shrake, and the rest. He has a way of explaining things so I understand what the horse is thinking, what I am "telling" the horse by using my reins and legs, and how to get a horse to collect himself and ride into the bridle.

The next week I traveled to the Shenandoah Middle School to speak to 5-8th graders about the "Character Counts" program. I LOVE to speak, and especially to young people, because I want to convince them the sky is the limit if you put your mind to something and are not afraid of a little hard work to get there. I focused on how responsibility, leadership, trustworthiness, and kindness play into building your own self confidence, which to me is one of the most beautiful characteristics in a person.

That evening, I headed back to Council Bluffs to the Mid-American Center to watch the Omaha Lancers hockey team defeat their Sioux City rivals. The PR director for the Lancers read my interview in the paper about my post-eating incident at the end of February and said she was impressed with my sense of humor, so she wanted to give me hockey tickets. I gladly accepted them and took my dad, his wife Theresa, and one of my sponsors. It was neat to see how the hockey rink inside the building had been transformed into a rodeo arena. I had a slight tingle of remembrance along my jawline as Dad and I had our picture taken standing above the "accident scene," however, it was much nicer to leave the building in Dad's truck this time rather than an ambulance! Thank you, Lancers, for the great tickets! The game was awesome and our seats put us down 3 rows from the rink!

Just this past Monday, I was given the opportunity to judge the Iowa FFA Idol contest in Ames during the Iowa FFA State Convention. I had so much fun listening to singers, guitarists, pianists, fiddle players, and watching dancers, jugglers, and baton twirlers! We witnessed so much young talent in Hilton Colliseum, and it was hard to pick only two finalists. If I was half as talented as those kids I would be set! Once the other judges and I did decide on the finalists, the crowd picked the winner by the amount of applause they received.

If you get a chance, please join me in doing an anti-rain dance for this weekend becuase the new little bay and I will be riding in the VEISHEA parade in Ames. This will be a fun year as Iowa State celebrates its 150th birthday--with free cake and all! As a student, I am proud of the VEISHEA event and all of the hard work and planning that goes into producing such a wonderful weekend. All of the activities, booths, events, concerts, and the parade are planned, organized, and run by students. Central campus is filled with tents sporting club displays and games for children, petting zoos, food stands, and other booths showcasing all of the great things about Iowa State University. Many alumni come back every year and bring their children to watch the parade on Saturday and try the famous "VEISHEA Cherry Pies" that have been made and sold for many years. I have been in the parade for the last 3 years of my college career as "Road Apple Cleanup" dressed as a rodeo clown, so I will have to be sure to tone down the make-up this year as Miss Rodeo Iowa!

Thank you for checking in on me, and I hope you enjoy the pictures! I hope you are enjoying the spring weather as much as I; it is getting very hard to go to class and be cooped up inside! Have a great time, and I will write again soon!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Annual Clinic Report

After two weeks of cancellations due to Iowa blizzards, the annual clinic was finally held at the beautiful Wildwood Hills Ranch in St. Charles, IA. Participants came from across Iowa and Illinois to garner hands-on experience and one-on-one instruction from clinic coordinators and instructors Jill Perkins, Megan Wiemold and Kimber Dall. Tips and tricks for all aspects of pageant competition were covered, and a clothing sale and mock pageant were also held. MRI committee members Connie Wiemold, Paula Jameson, Kristi Wainscott, Irene Blazek Pauley, and Tammy Roepke helped throughout the weekend with food, instruction and answering questions from parents. Lindsay Ahrenholtz, former Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa and Iowa High School Rodeo Queen, was on hand to give insight on high school rodeo pageants. Due to the clinic being held on the same weekend as the Iowa Horse Fair reigning MRI titleholders alternated between events. Suzette Walker, MTRI '07, attended the clinic on Saturday, with Amanda Eason, MRI '07, and Rachel Burton, MRIT '07, attending on Sunday. When not at the clinic the titleholders were greeting guests and participating in a variety of events at the Horse Fair.

Another clinic will be held later this year and it will be coordinated by Megan Wiemold. "Cowgirl Horsemanship" was not held in 2006 due to scheduling conflicts but will be held in the next few months. When the dates are finalized they will be posted on, and you'll want to register early as space is limited.

Thanks again to all who attended the clinic and to those who helped make the event a success. This is a major fundraiser for MRI and we appreciate your support. Good luck to you and we can't wait to hear about your pageant successes this summer!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Busy Week!

What a great week!

Wednesday, March 28 Todd Crase, of the Extreme Bullriding Tour, and I went to the Discovery Program in Indianola, Iowa to talk to clients with mental and/or physical disabilities about rodeo. I really appreciated the invitation from Todd, who works for a program similar to Discovery, and the staff because we had a great time! I told of my adventures as Miss Rodeo Iowa and answered questions about how I received my title, whether or not I rodeo bulls (Todd has!), and if I had ever had any accidents . . . which we all know the answer to that one!

Todd told about his very decorated rodeo career with many national and circuit titles in Saddle Bronc riding, and brought a rope to teach the clients how to rope. We spent a good portion of the morning in Indianola and rounded out the visit by signing autographs for everyone. Todd's friend (and resident of the home Todd works for), Jenny, treated us to a great lunch. We had a wonderful time getting caught up since I had not seen Todd since the Snowbull event in Burlington, Iowa. Thank you for lunch, Jenny!

Along came the weekend and I headed to the Iowa Horse Fair in Des Moines to sit in the Iowa Horse Council Booth, talk to fair-goers, help with the stick horse class, sign autographs in the Nutrena booth (thank you, Bill Horton, for being such a great sponsor this year!, and watch Cheri Sorensen draw horses! Cheri is an AMAZING artist who just opened her studio west of the Tractor Supply in Ankeny, Iowa. She kindly donated a painting to my Miss Rodeo Iowa fundraiser auction--thank you, Cheri!

Joining me at the Iowa Horse Fair was Rachel Burton, Miss Rodeo Iowa Teen 2007, along with Lauren Scholz, Miss Sidney, Iowa Rodeo 2006, and other breed association queens. Saturday afternoon we got to do a queen's run in the Pioneer Pavilion while Bobbie Hinds, my national director, read everyone's biographies. Thank you, Dan and Ken Whitehill for letting me borrow Zip for the third year in a row for a queen's run! I really appreciate all these two and the rest of their family (Mary, Jill, Kayla, Jamie, and Corey) does for me. Whenever I have been in need of a horse, they have always gone above and beyond what I inquire about. Ken let me ride his reining mare, Precious, which carried me to the title of "Miss Sidney, Iowa Rodeo 2005."

Dan and Ken are the directors of the wonderful "Two County Dusters" equine drill team from Southwest Iowa. As a proud past member of the team, I am always excited to be in the same place as the Dusters so I can watch them perform. Of all the drill teams I have seen, including those at big, out-of-state rodeos, I can honestly say these 18-year and younger kids are the best drill team in the nation. The speed, precision, ease of executing difficult and dangerous maneuvers makes this team untouchable! As always, the Dusters had the crowd on their feet, clapping in awe! Great job, Dusters!

Sunday I headed south and east of Des Moines to St. Charles, Iowa for the Miss Rodeo Iowa clinic. It was great to see so many young and aspiring queens! I offered additional advice and comments to the already very thorough material of Jill Perkins (MRI 2002), Kimber Dall (MRI 2003), Megan Wiemold (MRI 2004), and Paula Jameson. We concluded the clinic with a miniature pageant for the girls to practice what they had learned during the weekend (the clinic was held all-day Saturday as well) and receive comments from our panel of judges. It was surreal for me to attend the clinic as Miss Rodeo Iowa 2007 because just one year earlier, I was one of the "queens in training" at the clinic. If it weren't for Jill and Kimber, I would not be where I am today. Thank you, Jill and Kimber, for all you have done to help mold me into the state representative I am today!

In the spirit of Easter Weekend, I will be traveling down to Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines to meet some of the individuals who attend the Easter-Seals sponsored summer camps for children with physical and mental handicaps. Word has it I also get to participate in some of the camp crafts and activities--I can't wait! The Pony Express Riders of Iowa will be making their grand parade ride into the camp on Saturday afternoon, April 7, followed by the "Victory Dance" held at the Seven Flags Event Center in Des Moines. The doors open at 7 p.m. with the dancing beginning around 8 p.m. All the proceeds from the dance, along with the money ridden to Des Moines by all of the state-wide Pony Express organizations who have had local fundraisers (dances, live auctions, horse sales, etc.), will go to Camp Sunnyside. I have been on the Pony Express ride from Sidney, Iowa to Des Moines 3 times, so this is an organization I fully believe and support. I am honored I get to help out at the camp to show Camp Sunnyside, the Pony Express Riders, and the Easter Seals Organization that the rodeo world cares about these kids!

Please check back for pictures from my last few events! Have a great week, and I will check in again soon!