First person: Rodeo queen

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Britni Montague, a 2007 Clovis High graduate, is the reigning Pioneer Days Rodeo Queen. She graduated this spring from the University of New Mexico with a degree in chemical engineering.

Clovis native Britni Montague, 22, reigns as this year’s Pioneer Days Rodeo Queen. A basketball and volleyball player at Clovis High School, where she graduated in 2007, Montague never competed in rodeo.

Last month, she graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in chemical engineering.

Growing up in Clovis: I grew up on a farm and ranch and I went to Ranchvale Elementary. It was 98 percent military when I went. I think I had a new best friend every year at the school.

I don’t know what other people say about growing up in Clovis. It was a good experience. I wasn’t one of those kids that was ready to get off when I was 18 and go far, far away. I’m happy to be back, and all of my friends and family are here; maybe that’s what draws me back.

Why chemical engineering: As far as my degree, I’m one of those really competitive people. I played sports, and everything I do, I try to do the hardest thing. I got up to Albuquerque and said, “What’s the hardest thing I could possibly get myself into?” It was engineering. I’m kind of interested in health care, and that’s kind of why I chose chemical; a lot of the classes I had to take would satisfy some health care prerequisites.

I’m taking the year off to apply to more graduate schools. I didn’t get into anything I wanted, exactly, after graduating. I’m looking at more schooling.

The queen competition: I learned that even though you can ride a horse, it doesn’t help you a lot in this rodeo queen business. Riding the horse and teaching him the patterns is about half the battle. A lot of people see horses running around carrying flags (during a rodeo). You don’t just stick a flag on them, and they’re good in five minutes. I probably spent about a week with my horse on that.

Other that the horsemanship, it encompasses most of what most people would think of as a beauty pageant. You have to find a dress or make a dress. You have to model your dress and give them a paragraph that’s read about the dress you’re wearing. You also have to give a prepared speech on whatever topic you’re given. You have to do a private interview with the judge — not only knowledge of rodeo, but knowledge of world events in general and community events.

New to rodeo: I grew up on a farm and ranch, I grew up riding horses. But I’ve never done anything rodeo. I’ve never barrel raced or anything like that. This is my first experience with rodeo in public. I’m enjoying it so far.

I think it’s like anything you don’t have a lot of experience with. It’s like you’re a great basketball player, but they throw you in the baseball game. You’ve got an idea of what’s supposed to go on. As far as growing up in a pageant program or a rodeo queen system, for younger girls there are different divisions. Starting where I did in rodeo queens, having to compete in the highest category was kind of intimidating, but that’s where I got into it.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Kevin Wilson