Quick hit: an earlier news story about “rodeo queens” in New Mexico completing their routines on hobby horses raised a question for European horsefolk – what the hell is a rodeo queen anyway? And why are those little girls wearing eyeliner but not, you know, hard hats?*
Jezebel.com has republished a piece on the phenomenon from Sociological Images, and yep, it does appear to be a beauty pageant on horseback:
the Miss Rodeo USA site says that appearance and personality make up 80% of the competition, and riding skills only 20%
(There’s also a video of male cowboys cutting on hobby horses during a 2001 equine herpes outbreak.)
The grown-up Miss Rodeo USA is expected to exhibit:
… unexcelled sportsmanship, high moral and ethical standards, as well as adding a flavor of femininity with a regal touch. The queen should be able to speak intelligently and with authority on the sport of rodeo, IPRA policies and the world around her.
Unexcelled? Boy, that’s tough! If Miss Rodeo USA keeps on being unexcelled every year, then the latest one must be the most unimpeachable human being on the planet. Here are the judging criteria (how do you judge maturity alongside “facial features”? What if you have mature facial features? Isn’t that a good thing?). Needless to say, there is no equivalent show-pony class for men.