Rodeo Queen Wins with Roping
Look out, Santa Clarita. There’s a new rodeo queen in town. Riding in with a sash and adorned teal chaps, Hailey Beatty has the crown atop her cowboy hat to prove it. Just 16 years old, she and Dodo, the quarter horse named after the dodo bird marking on its head, won the California High School Rodeo Association Contest in July.
This is her first rodeo queen title win, but she’s also been awarded championship healer and reserve champion in her 3-year career. For the judges, key elements of the competition include the rider’s outfit, speech and the horsemanship ride. Representing District 9, Hailey definitely left an impression.
“It’s a great honor to represent said the Santa Clarita resident, who rode against eight other districts to claim her title at the Zamrzla Ranch in Antelope Acres.
Though Hailey holds a love of horses in her heart, it was roping that drove Hailey to take up rodeo. Diving right in to the rodeo world, she started out team roping a steer – an event also called heading and heeling – and then moved on to solo breakaway roping with a calf.
“I love the animals,” she said. “We never hurt them and are always humane.”
Although she says she enjoys maneuvering around obstacles like barrels, pole bending and goat tying, roping cattle remains Hailey’s passion. She talks philosophical about why she thinks girls should participate in the sport.
“Rodeo is about finding out who you are as a person, not as much about the competition,” she said.
Hailey also learns about others in rodeo, as well. The riders, she says, are like family to her.
“I don’t care if you’re new to cowgirl technique or been riding a long time,” Hailey said. “Come out and rope with us.”
There’s not a big rodeo presence yet in Santa Clarita; although lots of kids ride horses and handle animals, they don’t try out their skills at contests, she says. But Hailey hopes to see more girls compete in District 9 next year.
Locally, Hailey trains with Patrick Wickenheiser of the Wickenheiser Training Center in Aqua Dulce. She’s been a student of his for five years and gives him credit for her success.
A reining horse trainer and operator for 30 years, Wickenheiser has served as a judge for competitions in Canada, Japan and Australia. He described Hailey as a natural but also someone who works at it and has paid her dues.
“Her strength, and what garnered her the rodeo queen title, is roping and the ability to ride the horse better than most,” he said. “All contestants must show a reining pattern similar to figure skating with their horse – lead changing, circling and switching directions.”
One of her heroes is national rodeo star Tuf Cooper, who she says “makes everything come together in his calf tying and roping runs.”
From an observer’s perspective, Hailey explains, Cooper makes it look easy and has an eye for guiding the animal.
As Hailey continues to ride her way to rodeo stardom, the hard work and natural ability she’s demonstrated in just three years are sure to carry her on in her career and life as a cowgirl, in general.
photos by Joie de Vivre photographie