The weekend started off with a horsemanship competition in Weber Arena at Kansas State. Each contestant was scored on how well she navigated her horses through a specific pattern. To Emily Ebert, sophomore in biology and 2017-18 Miss Rodeo K-State, this marked the beginning of a new sport.
Ebert has shown horses since she was three years old and has seen several rodeos, but had never participated firsthand in the competition. In February she was named Miss Rodeo K-State after winning in the categories of people’s choice, photogenic, interview, written test and horsemanship.
Ebert said she felt a moment of relief when she was named the winner after preparing for the competition for over two months and waiting a week for the results.
“I felt very excited for the opportunity ahead of me,” Ebert said. “I knew it would be an awesome experience that would allow me to advocate for the great sport of rodeo and make close connections with people all over the state.”
Among other categories Ebert competed in, the test portion of the competition varied in topics from famous rodeo competitors to horse diseases, while the interview portion varied on topics from major events in stock shows to current news.
“You get to the competition and you’re like, ‘Well, we’ll see if I prepared correctly,’” Ebert said.
In addition to a crown and sash, she received a belt buckle, spurs and a pair of chaps that she helped design.
Meredith Thompson, pageant coordinator and 2006-07 Miss Rodeo K-State, said that Ebert already fits in with the rodeo and pageant crowd.
“She worked very hard at preparing for the pageant and it showed,” Thompson said. “She handled herself wonderfully at every event of the pageant.”
After playing volleyball her freshman year at Highland Community College, Ebert transferred to K-State and joined the K-State Rodeo Club, which sponsors the pageant.
More than a title
It was after seeing 2016-17 Miss Rodeo K-State Brooke Wallace, senior in apparel and textiles, that Ebert became interested in competing for the title.
Wallace said Ebert has a “welcoming personality” and is a “great horsewoman,” which she believes is the most important part of the title.
“You need to know how to ride and handle horses,” Wallace said. “Most of the time people will only see you on horseback, and it is important to have the proper skills to do so.”
History with horses
Ebert has ridden horses through participation in the Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association, 4-H horse shows and trail rides.
She grew up in the country 20 minutes outside of Clay Center along with her two brothers, Austin and Adam, who were also exposed to horse riding.
“We kept our horses at my grandparents’ who just lived a mile down the road,” Ebert said. “It was easy (to) ride your bike, get in the car or just walk down to grandma’s and can ride your horses.”
Her mother and her grandmother not only cheered Ebert on when she was announced the winner, but Ebert said they were a huge support system in her journey to Miss Rodeo K-State.
“The whole horseback riding and showing type of thing has been a big part of my family,” Ebert said. “My grandma started doing it when she was really young, and my mom and her sisters showed horses as well. My mom and my grandma have been big supporters of me being Miss Rodeo K-State and showing horses because they’re the ones who taught me how to ride and have just pushed me to become better.”
Clay Center is such a small town and in such close proximity to Manhattan that Ebert said the news of her winning the pageant traveled fast, and that she often still gets congratulatory message from friends, neighbors and acquaintances in the town.
Even Clay Center’s local radio station KCLY 100.9 had a question of the day about one week after she won that asked which Clay Center alumna was named Miss Rodeo K-State. Ebert said it was her dad who immediately called in to answer the question on-air.
Some of her ideas for future endeavors in this position include speaking at elementary schools or the public library in Clay Center, visiting Girl Scout troops, being involved in more rodeos and getting to know her teammates better in the Rodeo Club.
This title is not just about representing K-State, Ebert said, but also about “being an advocate for rodeos” and “portraying them in a positive light.”
Jacqueline Clawson, sophomore in agricultural economics and marketing, is a sorority sister of Ebert and said Ebert is “incredibly passionate, hardworking and intentional.”
“Emily can and will accomplish anything and everything that she sets her mind to,” Clawson said.
Next year, Ebert will assist in organizing and putting on Miss Rodeo K-State for the next rodeo queen.
“Rodeos and horseback riding are part of my background and lifestyle,” Ebert said. “It’s really important for me that I represent them well.”