Horse-loving De Soto woman falls short in quest for rodeo queen title
A De Soto High School alumna was named second-runner up in the rodeo queen contest Thursday night at the Abdallah Shrine Rodeo in Tonganoxie.
Erin Paulsen, 20, received $100, a sash and flowers at the first night of the rodeo on the Leavenworth County Fair Grounds.
Paulsen graduated from De Soto High School in 2005. She now attends Kansas State University where she competes on the equestrian team. She will be a junior in the fall.
Although Paulsen did not walk away empty-handed, she cannot hide her disappointment that she wasn't named rodeo queen this year. Last year, she was named first-runner up.
She is not allowed to see her scores until next year, but she has an idea why she didn't get the crown.
"I had a minor wardrobe malfunction during the queen's run part of the competition," she said. She refused to say what it was.
There is always next year, that is, if Paulsen decides to run. If she did it would be her last chance to compete for the crown limited to females between the ages of 16 to 21.
"I've thought about it, but I haven't decided yet because it takes so much time," Paulsen said.
The rodeo queen competition begins about a week before the rodeo. First the contestants participated in the May 18 poise and personality contest. The girls wore western dress and ate dinner with their families and other contestants. Each contestant is asked a current events question, a rodeo question and a question about the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Contestants also had to exhibit their riding abilities in the riding competition the following day.
The rodeo queen was announced Thursday night and she and her two attendants, including Paulsen, were required to be present at the rodeo Friday and Saturday.
Although there is a lot scheduled for the contestants during the week of rodeo, the commitment is year-round. A week before the rodeo she spent some extra time with her horse Titan in order to get him ready for the competition.
Paulsen tries to ride one of her three horses every other day in order to stay in shape.
"A lot of people you can put them on a horse and they say 'Oh this isn't so bad,' but then they get off and they can't walk," Paulsen said. "I believe you have to be in half-way decent shape in order to ride a horse."
As part of the equestrian team at K-State, she learned she is a stronger rider if she complements her regular routine with running and weightlifting. She rides English and Western for the team.
Paulsen has competed in other rodeo queen competitions, including the one for Johnson County 4-H. She is thinking about competing in the K-State Rodeo Queen competition next school year. Her favorite, she said, is the Shrine Rodeo because she likes how excited her sponsors get about the competition, and she said it would be a good first rodeo queen competition for someone.
"I think rodeos are good for girls and helping them with talking in front of people because they can talk about horses," she said. "It's helped me a lot in maturing, and coming out of my shell because I was always a very quiet reserved little girl and then I went off to college and I did this."
Paulsen is majoring in agriculture education at K-State. Although she does not know what she wants to do after she graduates, she know one thing -- she must have horses in her life.
"I will always own horses, and I will always ride and attempt to compete," she said. "I plan on them being in my life for the rest of my life. It's not even a hobby -- I'm addicted to them."