Finding Motivation Between 18 and AARP
By Brandy Von Holten
Finding courage and motivation is a difficult task and gets harder and harder to find as we add candles to our birthday cake each year. I, too, find myself doubting and fearing being made fun of or just utterly failing and looking like I have never been on a horse in my life. I found an ounce of courage and entered into the Benton County Rodeo Queen competition! Typically, a rodeo queen competition requires the participants to be no older than their mid-twenties and not married, but this competition did not have those stipulations. I found myself with an inner voice saying, “Why not?”. It was settled, I was going to compete in my first ever rodeo queen competition at the age of 37.
Now, this journey could have been a lot easier on one of my horses that I use daily to teach lessons, but I did not choose the easy path. The Benton County Rodeo Queen competition had never had a royalty competitor even step foot in the arena with a mule. I knew right then that not only did I want to compete as a nontraditional entry but I wanted to do it on my mule, JoJo. Only one problem; JoJo was not anywhere near ready. Here’s the behind the scene look at our journey from trail riding mule to making history in Benton County Missouri.
I knew I wanted to enter the rodeo queen competition after watching the previous year’s competition. It was an entire year ago that I made a plan. I knew I wanted to ride JoJo bridleless by next year. There was only one problem. JoJo was like driving an old truck with no power steering. Plus, he had primarily been used for trail riding and had had some time off. I knew that if I tried to do this on my own, I would end up letting too much time pass and then I would chicken out because I would not be prepared. I needed a team of horsemen. I thought long and hard about what this should look like. It came to me in an instant; I should form a drill team. With my husband and I owning a trail riding facility, my weekends are swamped, which means that I needed to practice during the week. I posted on Facebook that I wanted to start a drill team and PEOPLE SHOWED UP! To make things even better, the women that showed up were almost all former rodeo queens! I couldn’t believe the line up! We formed the Country Tough Drill Team! Our first practice was absolutely wonderful except for JoJo. We couldn’t trot in a straight line, couldn’t trot all the way around the arena, couldn’t canter around the arena, and our stop took around 15’ to accomplish. Plus, the horses did not know what he was and why he was beside them!
If you are looking for a step by step answer for how to find motivation, there’s not a “catch all” answer. I am a people person and enjoy being on a team. In addition to improving my basic horse/mulemanship skills with the use of the drill team, I also took private lessons, competed in a few obstacle challenges, and even went cattle sorting. The way to feel more confident is to believe in your training. In order to persuade myself to train, I set a goal. It is sometimes easy to set a goal, but not easy to keep yourself from backing out later on. By having the team, I felt like I would be letting them down if I did not show up. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself from backing out; do it. You could prepay for a bundle of lessons, write your training time down in ink on your calendar, and make a promise to yourself to not cancel.
I am now the 2017 Benton County Rodeo Queen. Did I compete on him bridleless? Heck no! But I did ride him bridleless for two laps in the arena the night of the rodeo with one of my drill team teammates by my side and another one guarding the gate.