4-H played pivotal role for Canada's new rodeo queen
Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011 06:00 am
The freshly-crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2012 gave credit to her 4-H background in helping her to garner her title.
“I’m a huge believer in 4-H and I think it’s an amazing program for everyone,” said 19-year-old Bergen resident Arleta Bowhay, who was crowned in Edmonton earlier this month at the Canadian Finals Rodeo. “By participating in many projects, including beef, horse, pack horse, young horse and crafts, I have really benefited from my 4-H experience.
“My involvement has positively impacted my life.”
Bowhay has been involved with the Bergen 4-H Multi-club for the past 10 years, and also held a number of volunteer elected positions, including president for three years.
“This past year, I was a junior leader for the canine division, where I helped lead the club members and oversaw their canine projects,” she said.
Bowhay was also heavily involved with public speaking and represented the regional speak-off for 4-H this year.
“Through these life experiences, I have gained a lot of confidence in being comfortable in front of a large crowd, which is a big step from where I was, prior to joining 4-H,” she said.
The rodeo queen grew up on a ranch 10 minutes south of Sundre, where her family has nearly 250 cow-calf pairs. “We’re still old-fashioned and do everything with the cattle off horseback,” she said. “It’s something we all enjoy doing, even in the freezing cold.
“Living in the country and having the chance to just jump on my horse and go ride or help my family work cows is something that I would never change.”
She’s been a part of the rodeo lifestyle for many years, and within the last six years, began competing with her father and brother in team roping competitions.
“She probably rode a horse before she walked,” said her dad, Jim. “She rode in her mother’s belly a week before she was born.”
Heather Kidd is one of several horse project leaders with the Bergen 4-H organization, and she had the opportunity to work with Bowhay for the past six years.
“Arleta worked really hard for this,” said Kidd. “Plus, she’s super-outgoing and willing to try anything.
“Her personality and her faith really came into play, in helping her win the title.”
Bowhay began her journey into rodeo royalty in 2009, when she won the title of Sundre Rodeo Queen. Her sister, Bronwen, holds the current title.
She said she has a few horses, but her “main guy” is Dash. “He’s a quarter horse and I use him for working cows, riding at rodeos, teaching riding lessons or even showing,” Bowhay said. “He’s a 16-hand, dark-brown seven-year-old gelding that I love very much.”
Strong support has come from the communities of Sundre and Bergen, where a fundraiser was held at the Sundre Legion on October 28.
“Our community is very close-knit,” added Kidd. “Arleta comes from a well-rooted family, with strong values. She’s got a huge team behind her.”
Bowhay competed against three other contestants to win the contest, which judged the young women on horsemanship, public speaking, personal appearance and how they worked a crowd.
As Miss Rodeo Canada, Bowhay will serve as an ambassador for Canadian professional rodeo for the next year. “I will be travelling all over Canada and the United States, attending rodeos and promoting our western heritage,” she said.
She’s obtained sponsorship from Roper, Stetson, Wrangler, Smithbilt and Montana Silver. “These are just a few of the many people and companies that will be helping me out throughout the year,” she added.
Her goal is to be “an awesome ambassador” for Canadian professional rodeo, and her 4-H leader believes she will fulfil that role.
“Arleta will be a wonderful role model for other girls in the area,” said Kidd. “I think she’ll impact a lot of people and do a great job.”
The public is invited to attend an open house for Arleta on Nov. 27 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Country Centre in Sundre.