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the Hoot
By Rebekah Savage, associate editor
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4002 County Rd. 121
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Maplewood Farm
Picture a beauty pageant with modeling, interviews … and horses.
A William Woods University senior, Ashleigh
Woolmaker, does just that by competing in
rodeo queen contests.
She was crowned Miss Rodeo Missouri 2012
and is in the running to become Miss
Rodeo America.
Woolmaker hails from Center, Mo., a town of
about 630 in Ralls County, near Hannibal.
As a contender, she will travel to rodeos
in- and out-of-state to participate in
various competitions.
The contests are similar to other beauty
pageants, with the exception of needing to
have equine and rodeo knowledge. Rodeo
queens must ride a short reining pattern and
take a test to show their familiarity with rodeo.
Shari Couch, a family friend, helps
Woolmaker prepare for the contests. Referred
to as the “glam squad,” Couch ensures
everything is perfect before Woolmaker goes
in to compete.
“Glam squad is what I call her,” Woolmaker
said. “She makes sure I’m in perfect condition,
not a hair out of place. If she sees something
wrong on my pattern when I’m practicing, she
always tells me. Not really an instructor, but
she’s there and she has a significant role.”
Juggling “queening” on the weekends can
sometimes be a challenge.
As an elementary education major, Woolmaker does her student teaching
during the week and carries a class overload. She is also a member of the
Delta Gamma sorority on campus.
Along with weekend competition, Woolmaker also participates in the
coronation parties for all of the other girls who compete.
Just recently she attended a meeting of the Missouri Equine Council and gave
an impromptu queen clinic.
Despite the challenging schedule, Woolmaker enjoys being able to compete
both in beauty pageants and equine events.
“The fact that I can combine my horses and my pageants together was really
cool,” she said.
From an early age, Woolmaker was hooked on showing. She showed Western
pleasure near home before competing in a queen contest. From the first
contest, she “instantly loved it, and it became an instant goal.”
Woolmaker’s favorite portion of a rodeo queen contest is the modeling.
“I really like the modeling part because when you do the fashion aspect, that’s
when you can have the dresses that have all the
crazy amounts of rhinestones and glitter. I love to
see the dresses and what different people have,”
she said.
“It’s also kind of the least nerve-wracking because
you’re not worrying about a horse messing up or
not cooperating, or stuttering when giving your
interview, or any of that fun stuff.
The Miss Rodeo America Pageant is held annually
in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals
Rodeo, in Las Vegas, Nev., scheduled this year for
Dec. 6-15.
Reigning State Rodeo Queens compete for the
coveted crown of Miss Rodeo America by
competing in the areas of appearance,
horsemanship and personality.
Despite the competition being so large,
Woolmaker isn’t nervous. Instead she’s
looking forward to spending time with her
traveling companions.
“I’m more excited to go because everybody gets
along really well. You travel together all year long
so it’s kind of nice to hang out and do all the fun
stuff together.”
As Miss Rodeo Missouri, Woolmaker’s goal is to
place in the Top 10 at the Miss Rodeo America
pageant, but she knows that presents a challenge.
“A lot of states this year have a program, so it’s going to be a little tougher.
Hopefully we’ll get there, fingers crossed!”