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Miss Rodeo USA spending the week in Statesboro

7th annual Kiwanis Rodeo set for Friday and Saturday

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Miss Rodeo USA spending the week in Statesboro

Brittany Howard, the 2017 Miss Rodeo USA, is in Statesboro this week to help promote the seventh annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo set for Friday and Saturday at the fairgrounds.

Brittany Howard is used to being mistaken for one of the bachelorettes from the popular TV show, but in reality, she is a rodeo queen. More specifically, Howard is the 2017 Miss Rodeo USA.

The glittering crown nestled against the brim of her cowboy hat, the big, shiny belt buckle, the boots, the jeans, the Western shirt and chunky Southwestern jewelry may appear as a costume to some, but for her, it is everyday attire - as long as she is representing rodeo, promoting the sport and educating people along the way.

She is in Statesboro this week to promote the Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo, which will be held Friday and Saturday night at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds.

The 24-year-old blonde from Slaughters, Kentucky, a town in the western portion of the state, is a licensed veterinary technician with an agricultural degree from Murray State University, where she competed in barrel racing.

Her first horse, a sorrel American Quarter Horse mare named Fancy, "is still with me," she said. "I told my mom and dad I wanted a horse for years."

She began barrel racing with Fancy and later acquired a palomino Appaloosa mare named Blondie that she used competing at the collegiate level.

Not a beauty pageant contestant as a child, Howard's first rodeo pageant title was Miss Murray State University Rodeo. Being a rodeo queen is vastly different from Cinderella-style beauty pageants in that 30 percent of a contestant's rodeo pageant score is determined by her riding skill. Howard knew how to ride but took horsemanship lessons to polish her skills for the pageants.

She later won the Miss Sunbelt Rodeo title in Moutrie, Georgia, which sent her to the Miss Rodeo USA pageant.

"I like to dress and be pretty but still wear my cowboy hat and boots, which is more my style," she told the Statesboro Herald when she paid the office a visit Monday.

She didn't grow up riding.

"My family was used to working horses," but Howard didn't get Fancy until she was 15. "I tried other sports but wasn't very good at them," she said.

Her love for horses and other animals is what led her to become a veterinary technician.

"I have always loved animals and loved the veterinary side of it, educating clients in how to care for their animals," she said.

This year, however, she doesn't have so much spare time to spend with her pets and animals, as she is always on the go as Miss Rodeo USA.

"It is a crazy, busy life but so worth it," she said.

She will travel more than 100,000 miles all over the country, dressing daily as the rodeo queen she is, helping promote rodeo at businesses, civic club meetings, school events and other venues.

"I meet all kinds of people," she said, adding that the greatest part of the job is "the friendships I will make, memories I will take from it."

Her pageant platform has been "Staying Focused on the Ride," through which she encourages both children and adults to keep sight of their goals.

"Hard work is what it takes, but this shows how it can all pay off," she said. "I never thought I'd be here. This shows what hard work and staying focused can do for you."

Howard has had her share of funny and awkward moments as she has traveled to town after town as Miss Rodeo USA. Once, she was telling a man in Texas where she was from.

"I told him I was from Kentucky, but from western Kentucky, not eastern Kentucky, because I have all my teeth," she said.

It was a joke about her home state, which she said gets a great deal of ribbing about its rural image.

"He looked at me and said, 'I don't have any teeth,'" she said.

She said she figures the man knew she was joking and didn't get offended - or so she hopes, she said with a smile.

When Howard isn't reigning as Miss Rodeo USA, in addition to barrel racing, she enjoys other equestrian sports including team roping and breakaway roping. She also enjoys trail riding, she said.

Advance tickets for the rodeo are available to purchase at Anderson's General Store: $12 for adults and $7 for kids. Prices at the gate will be $16 for adults and $11 for kids.

The rodeo grounds open each night at 5 p.m., with the rodeo starting at 7 p.m.

Vendors and kids' attractions including pony rides and inflatables will be on site.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.



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