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View from the queen's saddle
By BRENNA KNOWLES
Of the Baker City Herald
Who is Ty Murray? How would you handle working with people you don't get along with? What are the components of a successful bareback ride?
According to Kristy Bain, if you can answer these questions with poise and confidence and give an eloquent speech, you are half way to being a queen or princess for the Haines Stampede Rodeo Court.
The other half is demonstrating your horseback riding ability in unpredictable situations.
Bain is the rodeo secretary and court advisor for the Haines Stampede Rodeo. Bain and court mother Leslie Davis are helping Misty Davis, Annalea Kauth and Rachel Coomer fulfill their queen and princess roles.
Bain said about 12 junior high and high school age girls tried out for the three court titles in Haines last September. Misty Davis, 18 from Baker City, scored the highest out of the three girls to earn her title as queen. Bain said the court judges look for "girls who are cheerful and ready to speak up about the rodeo."
Bain said the Haines rodeo court is different from other courts in the region because members are not required to pay for their court clothing and they do not have to sell tickets for the rodeo.
Members of the Haines Stampede Rodeo court promote their rodeo by seeking funds from local sponsors. That means their status as queen or princess is not determined by how many tickets they sell. Bain says this system allows the girls to become a queen or princess "regardless of who they know or how much money their family has."
Bain said the girls' positions on the court will help them later in life by giving them the chance to "learn to get out and talk to people and feel comfortable being in the public eye."
Busy life of a rodeo queen
"There's a lot to being on a court," Davis said. "It's not just about smiling and running around." Davis said there are many extra hours of securing sponsors, traveling and preparing for appearances.
Those appearances this year include the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show, the Elgin Stampede, the Catherine Creek Rodeo, the Pendleton Roundup parade, the Miners Jubilee parade and the Haines Fourth of July parade.
Davis said queens and princesses learn how to work with people, deal with pressure, be flexible and "put a smile on their faces when it's 110 degrees."
There is a difference between a queen and a princess. Davis was a princess last year and she said her role this year as queen requires "a little bit more planning."
Davis said she works closely with advisors and the rodeo committee. Rodeo queens are "in charge of problem solving and making sure the girls are aware, but it takes a lot of people to get it done," she said.
To prepare for the rodeo court tryouts, Davis wrote and practiced a speech about her commitment to her community. She had her mom ask her questions about rodeo and she rode up to three hours per day, focusing on her and her animal's consistency and form. Davis said her mom helped her expose her animal to the unexpected by taking her across culverts and letting plastic bags blow across the practice arena. Davis said it is important for the animals to be prepared because she and her court members "don't like to see anyone hit the dust."
That's not a horse, is it?
Davis may be the only rodeo queen in the region who doesn't ride a horse. She said her mule, Rosey, looks like a horse with longer ears and a bigger face and receives extra attention at the parades or rodeos. "Some people laugh and point, or ask me Why do you ride that?'"
Davis said her response is a smile and a wave. "A lot of people don't think mules can do what horses can do but she's perfect and sweet to me," she said.
Davis said the best things about being on the court are developing friendships with the other members, promoting the rodeo and being around the public. "And little kids think you are the greatest thing," she said.
Meet the court
Davis graduated from Baker High School this spring. Next fall she will study pre medicine at Eastern Oregon University.
Princess Annalea Kauth, 16, will be a junior at Baker High School this fall. She said her favorite part of being a rodeo princess is shopping. She said Haines Stampede royalty wear red, white and blue outfits that they purchased in Pendleton, Baker City and Nampa with sponsorship money. She said the royalty ensemble includes one sweater, one cotton shirt, three vests, a skirt, a jacket, two silk shirts, four pairs of jeans, a red sleeveless shirt and a royal blue shirt with sequins. The girls have different outfits for rodeos, parades and luncheons.
Kauth said she wanted to be on the rodeo court because she "thought it would be fun to travel, see new people and meet other girls on courts." Kauth said she was also influenced by her mom, Ethelyne, who was a rodeo court princess in Washington when she was Kauth's age.
Kauth said to be a princess, she has to miss riding with her 4-H club in the Haines Fourth of July parade and put aside this summer's dog shows.
"It's not much of a sacrifice," she said, "We got our schedules in September so we had enough warning to schedule for the summer."
Rachel Coomer, 18, from Baker City is planning to attend Linn Benton Community College after being a princess for the Haines Stampede Rodeo this year.
Coomer said she rides two or three times a week and every weekend.
Coomer said being on a rodeo court "takes a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. Court is a one year commitment and a lot of fun. It's a great thing because it teaches you about yourself, about others and about horses."
Coomer said she has learned to come out of her shell and be friendly to people she does not know. "It has taught me to focus more on other people," she said.
Along with her commitment as princess, Coomer is a Junior Leader for the Good Shepherds of Baker County 4-H Club and she plans to show a market steer at the Baker County Fair. She also has two horse projects with the Haines Rough Riders 4-H Club.
Coomer encouraged community members to "come out, have fun and say hi" to members of the court at the Haines Stampede Rodeo. The event starts at 6 p.m. on July 3 and 1:30 p.m. on July 4. The cost is $5 for adults and $2 for ages 6-12.