I was born and raised on a small, family farm in the Heart of Illinois. Farming has been in my family for generations. From as many generations that can be traced after immigrating from Germany and France, all the way down to my father and now my brother. As my grandmother put it “once a farmer, always a farmer.”
As a farmer’s daughter, my dad taught me to love the land and all of the animals that reside here. From the few cows we have in our pasture to the deer in the woods behind my house, I fell in love with animals at a young age. As a farmer, my father always kindly referred to horses as “hay burners,” but trust me when I tell you that did not stop me from going on trail rides every chance I was given when my cousins invited me over! This was the start of my crazy rodeo dreams.
When I reached high school, I had realized that my family didn’t have the money to allow me to afford a nice horse or compete in high school rodeo. My strong will and determination led me to get a job at the age of 16 to pay for riding lessons with a talented dressage trainer. However, my life quickly changed over the next year. Between an unhealthy relationship and high school bullying, I came to a place in my life where depression and suicidal thoughts were present. I felt like I did not belong. I felt like an outcast. Little did I know at the time that rodeo and horses would come to my rescue.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I found an internship with a reining trainer. While there, I met an incredible horse named Skipper O Doc. “Doc” was an AQHA gelding that was for sale at the barn, and I quickly fell in love with him. After a summer of bargaining and pleading, I was able to purchase my first barrel horse. With this purchase, I found hope and purpose. Together, we started our journey down the rodeo road. I guess you could say, in a way, rodeo saved me.
Neither as a young horse-crazed girl growing up nor the depressed high school girl, did I ever imagine that one day I could obtain the title of Miss Rodeo Illinois. With years of dedication to the sport, some amazing friends, and a lot of try, here I stand. I have travelled 10,000 miles so far this year with many more yet to go, since rodeo season has just started here in Illinois. Being Miss Rodeo Illinois has already given me a world of incredible opportunities.
To me, being Miss Rodeo Illinois is more than just looking pretty or being the star of the show. It’s more than the miles you travel or the dirt that you get on your boots; it’s about the people I hope to inspire.
The people who are worried “it’s too late” or they “don’t have enough money.” I hope that I can show others that with perseverance and heart you can achieve all of your dreams. Sometimes, all you need is a few seconds of courage to take the leap and go after your dreams.