|Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry is an outstanding representative of the rodeo industry and a true role model.|
Crowned the 50th Miss Rodeo USA on January 20, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Okla., during the International Finals Rodeo, Lauren Terry is not dazzling because her veins are made of glitter but because they pulse with determination, grit and try.
A road paved with hard work, sweat, equines and dreams led Terry to the ultimate goal in a rodeo queen’s journey: winning her current title.
It is common for many young girls to entertain fantasies of becoming royalty and owning ponies.
Terry began making her own visions a reality at an early age.
She started competing in barrels when she was only 4 years old, and, upon graduating to a larger pony, she began showing Western Pleasure, a discipline she showed in for 10 years.
She credits her Western Pleasure showing experience for teaching her proper facets of horsemanship and instilling her with responsibility and dedication.
In 2004, the last year for her to show her pony Choctaw, she had a strong desire to win the State Champion title in Pony Western Pleasure.
The State Show was in Montgomery in September during blazing hot weather and Terry was in the mindset to have fun, but her father Keith Terry let her know how critical it was for her to focus and diligently ride her pony at the show.
|Full of grace and beauty, Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry carries the American flag at a rodeo.|
"Of course, my dad was like you’ve got to ride both days all day long, and so it’s hot and I’m out there on this pony and I want to go play with my friends," she said. "He said, ‘No, if you want to win this, you’ve got to ride this pony.’ I came out of the class a champion and it showed that putting hard work and dedication into something does pay off."
The victorious young equestrian not only emerged out of the pivotal Pony Western Pleasure class with a championship title, but with the valuable lesson that pouring your energy, efforts and time into your passion is rewarding.
She said the experience taught her she had to work harder for something she really wanted in life.
Rodeo has been a way of life for Terry from the start.
|IPRA manager Dale Yerigan presents Lauren Terry with her saddle at the IFR banquet.|
"I’ve competed in rodeo pageants since I was 10. I’ve been involved in rodeos all of my life. My family owns and operates Iron Rail Arena in Moulton where we host an annual rodeo each year along with some high school and 4-H events."
Her background has provided her with beneficial behind-the-scenes rodeo knowledge.
"I’ve seen the production side of things and I’ve seen what goes on and know what it takes to put on a rodeo," she said.
Winning the title she took to Miss Rodeo USA, Miss Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo, in 2012 was a huge milestone for Lauren.
She said that title meant a lot to her because she had been competing for a rodeo queen title at the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo since 2007; not only is it close to home but like her other home.
Terry sings high praise for those affiliated with the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo.
"Being among some of the greatest people in the state of Alabama was just awesome," she said. "They were a great support group. I probably had the biggest support group out in Oklahoma out of any of them … not just my family but the Limestone Pageant Committee. They just helped me out and were behind me 100 percent."
|Clockwise from above, Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry visits with a young girl. Lauren has a positive influence on the younger generation. Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry, Miss ACRA Callie Newman and a fellow rodeo queen enthusiastically ride stick horses with young cowpokes. Lauren is an outstanding role model. Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry and two young cowpokes are all smiles.|
In 2011, Terry had the honor of being the first recipient of the Martha Legg Spirit Award in the Limestone Sheriff’s rodeo pageant, which she said meant more to her that year than winning the title did.
Terry describes the namesake of the award as a pistol in her eighties who judges the chopped Sheriff’s Rodeo Pageant each year.
She said Martha is an amazing lady who she hopes to be like one day.
|Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry presents world champion barrel racer Terri Alexander with a buckle for winning a round at the 2013 NFR.|
"She has helped so many girls in rodeo queening and in life, and she is a great influence," Terry said.
When Terry met Dakota Missildine – an outstanding Alabamian, 2009 Miss Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo Queen and former 2010 Miss Rodeo USA – at the rodeo, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
She said Dakota is like an older sister to her who sparked her fire to compete for the Miss Rodeo USA title.
A little over a decade after entering her first pageant, she is influencing young minds positively through her reign as Miss Rodeo USA.
Among her queen duties, she visits schools promoting her meritorious platform, "Roundup Respect," emphasizing to students the importance of showing everyone respect.
Her desire to teach young people about respect and aim to instill that trait into them stems from her belief that it is a strong asset to possess.
"If you don’t have respect, you are not going to get very far in life," she said.
|Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry and Elmer, the Montana Silversmiths mascot, are a dynamic duo bringing joy to those they meet.|
She is a firm believer that teaching children respect begins at home, but feels many have not had the strong rearing she was fortunate to have.
"I feel like not only is our country lacking respect but our communities, too," Terry added.
She has had the fortune of seeing her teaching come to fruition.
After visiting 19 schools while in Oklahoma, Lauren was at a bullriding event when a girl ventured up to her. When Terry asked if she would like an autograph, the girl replied with an informal, "Yeah."
A couple of other girls standing nearby who were in one of the classrooms Terry had visited overheard their friend’s reply and were quick to correct her.
"No, you say, ‘Yes ma’am,’" they said. "She taught us that the other day."
Terry related that witnessing this made her feel like she was able to break through to someone and that students were listening.
Her advice for young women who would like to enter a rodeo queen contest is to go for it.
"Maybe they think that’s not something they can do, but I always tell them as long as they chase their dreams and they follow them they can accomplish something," she said. "All you have to do is set your mind to it and you can do whatever you would like to do."
Competing for the Miss Rodeo USA title was not a cakewalk and consisted of late nights, early mornings, surprise elements and tough challenges.
"When we started the week off, they took our cellphones and laptops. We had no communication with the outside world," she recalled.
Terry said that parents could watch the contestants compete, but could not wave or talk to them.
|Miss Rodeo USA Lauren Terry has been around rodeo all of her life. All cowgirl, she demonstrates her horsemanship skills.|
"You could see your parents there and you knew they were there supporting you, but it was hard not to be able to walk up and hug them or give them a small wave or something," Terry said.
An unexpected saddle exercise did not unseat her.
"You had to bring a horse out of the stall. It was like a mock setting. Then you had 10 minutes to get this horse ready for grand entry and they had messed some things up on the saddle, the headstall and the breast collar. So you had to check this horse over and fix these things … which was one of the easier interviews for me, but I was so nervous beforehand because I did not know what they were about to do," she explained.
While preparing for the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant, Terry also juggled her studies at Auburn University and work.
Her mom Marsha would send her an impromptu question via email daily to help keep her mind refreshed before the competition, and Terry kept up with current events.
Before taking a year off from school to fulfill her reign, she was involved in the Auburn Young Farmers organization and Auburn’s Collegiate Young Cattlemen and Cattlewomen’s Association.
In addition to being crowned as Miss Rodeo USA, Terry garnered other honors during the IFR in Oklahoma, including being chosen as Miss Congeniality and receiving the People’s Choice Award.
Just knowing the other contestants chose her as Miss Congeniality is significant to her.
One of her most memorable experiences during her reign was making an appearance at the 55th Southern Livestock Expedition rodeo.
"I remember growing up and watching those girls in the arena do the opening ceremonies and carrying the flag. It was really awesome to be able to do that this year," she said.
Riding along with her sister Kaitlin, the current 2013 Jr. Miss Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo Queen, at the event was a dear moment.
"That was a great experience to be able to give back, when it’s something I’ve watched for so long," Terry said.
She views her Miss Rodeo USA title as an accomplishment, a job and something she is very passionate about.
"I love rodeo and I love being able to be the spokesperson for the IPRA and helping to promote rodeos each weekend," she said.
After her reign, she plans to return to Auburn University to finish her two semesters and obtain her Animal Science Production Management degree.
She aspires to open a slaughter house for pork and beef one day.
"I would like to provide the public with fresh meat," she stated.
Being Miss Rodeo USA is more than a title or a crown. It takes a special lady to fill the role entailing being an excellent horsewoman and promoting the rodeo industry, being an articulate spokesperson, upholding the ideals that have made our country great, serving as a role model and leaving a trail of inspiration and high standards, and, most importantly, making someone’s day just a little brighter.
"I enjoy making new friends and seeing people smile," Miss Rodeo USA commented on meeting many new faces while serving in her role.
Jade Currid is a freelance writer from Auburn.