ANGLETON — Spurs sparked, hooves echoed and dirt sprung all afternoon as four Brazoria County high school students competed for the right to be called rodeo queen.
After four events showcasing their talent, the Brazoria County Fair Association honored Aubrey Kirschner as the 2022 BCFA Rodeo Queen during a coronation ceremony at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds in Angleton.
She received a sash and crown, a personalized saddle and various other items.
“She's going to make a good rodeo queen, there's no doubt about it," BCFA Manager Ernest Lawson said. "She comes from a good family that's participated out here in Brazoria County for a long period of time.”
The participants competed in the tack inspection, horsemanship pattern, flag pattern and barrel racing pattern.
The horsemanship, flag and barrel racing patterns had the competitors choreograph a routine and were judged based on how well each performed on their horses.
“They had a speech competition Saturday in the Leo Martin Chevy Auditorium in which they spoke about their personality and future ambition,” Lawson said.
“It’s pretty interesting to listen to because some of them started (horse competition) at a very young age and some of them got into it at a little bit older age and came and watched a competition a couple of years ago and said 'That's something I'd like to do,' and now they're out here doing it,” Lawson said.
Kirschner started riding and competing at 5 years old. She got her first horse for her sixth birthday, and what she has wanted to do since then was set in stone.
“There's so many emotions going on right now, a lot of excitement and the nervousness wearing off. It's a very rewarding feeling,” she said.
A junior at Brazoswood High School, Kirschner ranks 22nd in her class and is a part of the school’s FFA program.
She recorded the fastest time at the Barrel Racing event, boasting a 16.07 second round without any penalties for knocking down a barrel.
“I think I did really well. We had a little bit of a wide first barrel but we've been working on it and there's definitely been a lot of improvement there,” Kirschner said.
Natalie Flores, 2021’s Rodeo Queen, has known Kirschner since they worked on a summer series they, but they got to know each other more recently in anticipation of the event.
“I have without a doubt she's going to do an amazing job,” she said. “She's so well rounded, she's an amazing competitor and just an overall wonderful person who I think will definitely carry on the title very well.”
The former winner gave words of encouragement to each competitor.
“Make sure to remember you've got eyes on you everywhere you go," Flores said. "Whether or not you're in a sash and crown or you're having lunch, people know who you are and it's really important to stay rooted in your morals and your beliefs and be a good competitor in and out of the arena.”
The fair association gave out other accolades for the participants, including Miss Congeniality, Miss Photogenic and Miss Personality and Attire.
Miss Congeniality was voted on by the competitors while the others were up to the judges.
Haley Biggers, a student at Angleton High School, won both Miss Congeniality and Photogenic. She felt she learned a lot from the experience from the entire process of training.
“I can say just to be able to wear the sash, even if it's not second runner-up, first runner-up or even queen, it's still an honor because you still get the representatives here,” Biggers said.
This is Biggers’ senior year and last chance to compete for the crown, but she is hopeful she can train the next queen if someone she knows wants to compete.
Crista Goodridge, also a student at Angleton, is no stranger to the rodeo. She’s been in the circuit for 11 years and is in her second year of Angleton’s FFA program in horse judging.
“You gotta work really hard. It's a lot harder than people think it is," she said. "You look at it. You think it's pretty easy to get on that horse, go out there and just do whatever, but a lot of work is put into it.”
She has been grateful for the journey and to work with all of the other girls, she said.
Camryn Reyes, a sophomore at Brazoswood, has been involved with horses and competition for just two years. She is going to take this year's competition as a learning experience and is hopeful to win queen soon.
“Now when I get my judge sheets, I know what to work on just so that I can project myself out," she said.
Reyes plans on competing again next year and hopes her sister joins in.
“My main goal is to encourage more youth because rodeo isn't as popular down here as it should be, and there's a bunch of little girls who want to be cowgirls and they just never have the opportunity to," Kirschner said. "So if I can inspire them to get involved somehow.”
Andrew Tineo is a reporter for The Facts, contact him at 979-237-0151 or email@example.com.